Atio’s family 'overjoyed' with court ruling on son’s case

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2022 12:14 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2022 03:02 PM

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MANILA – The family of the late University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio "Atio" Castillo III is “overjoyed” after a Manila court rejected the bid of 10 fraternity members implicated in his death to dismiss the case supposedly due to insufficiency of evidence.

“We are overjoyed. Because we’ve been waiting for this decision. You know, 2 years ago…they filed for bail. And 2 years ago, that was denied also,” Horacio Jr., Castillo’s father, told ANC’s “Rundown.”

“And then, few months back, after the prosecutors presented their, all our evidences, the courts accepted all evidences by the prosecutors, and now, this is another win for us, having their demurrer dismissed by the court,” he said.

“And what’s important here is the court is convinced that Atio died of hazing,” added Minnie, his mother. “Based on evidence naniniwala yung court na ang kinamatay nga ni Atio is hazing and not of any other medical condition.”

Minnie was referring to how some of those accused in Atio’s death sought to create doubt if Castillo had indeed died due to hazing, blaming it instead on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or the enlargement of the heart.

The court, however, has given more weight to the testimony of the medico-legal officer who conducted the autopsy on Castillo and on the pathologist who examined his internal organs. Both concluded that “severe blunt traumatic physical injuries” were the cause of Castillo’s death.

Both of Castillo’s parents said they are satisfied so far with the progress of the case against their son’s alleged killers.

“Five years--maraming pinagdaanan ang family, especially with what had happened, yung pandemic. We thought that the case would be prolonged or delayed, but we are so grateful…we got a very good news,” Horacio said.
 
“We’re very much happy with how everything is going, well considering we have a pandemic so nagkaroon tayo ng mga suspension of court hearings for almost 2 years, and at some point, the judge hearing our case also passed away from COVID,” Minnie said. 

“So, nadelay din siya because of that but otherwise, it’s going well, it’s doing very good,” she added.

Their lawyer, Atty. Lorna Kapunan, also said the pacing of the case has been “very satisfactory.”

“I think, as a litigator, I’m saying that the speed, well the pacing of the case considering the pandemic and the number of accused here has been very satisfactory,” she said.

“And let me just stress that this was handled by public prosecutors and to them should we give the credit. While we started the case as a matter of strategy, we decided to give the handling to the public prosecutor and they have done a good job.”

“If we peruse the decision, the number of--just gauging from the number of witnesses that they presented, and the number of cross examinations that may have been conducted by lawyers, almost every other accused had a law firm, or a brod representing, really, this was done with much facility,” she added.

With the denial of their demurrer, the accused are now expected to present their evidence to refute the allegations.

“We would assume because this involves life imprisonment--reclusion perpetua, which is life imprisonment--that the defense would put up a good fight to overcome the findings in the demurrer,” Kapunan said.

The Castillo family said they hope that the case would proceed smoothly from now on.

“We expect it to move very smoothly and I expect conviction for the hazing case,” Minnie said. 

--ANC, 4 March 2022