MANILA — A senator said that officials of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Civil Law Dean lawyer Nilo Divina, and Aegis Juris fratmen who are members of a chat group may be held liable for the hazing death of UST law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
Senator Francis Escudero, in a Kapihan press conference on Thursday, said that the university is “civilly and criminally” liable for negligence.
“Under the Civil code, yes, they are civilly liable. Criminally liable if at all papasok sa anti-hazing law dahil may kapabayaan nga (Criminally liable under the anti-hazing law because there is negligence),” Escudero said.
“Hindi ba dapat mayroon silang kinatawan sa anumang initiation na isinasagawa ng sinumang fraternity ng kanilang paaralan. Ang nagiging depensa lamang nila is suspended daw iyong fraternity (Shouldn’t they have a representative for any initiation being conducted by a fraternity in the school. Their defense is that the fraternity is suspended),” he added.
Escudero, a lawyer himself, said that he did not buy Divina’s explanation that he was taking distance from the fraternity and had no prior knowledge of the initiation rites that took place.
“I don’t believe that because as a member of the fraternity…maganda ring matanong sa kanya yan, sinasabi din lang naman niya iyan. Ano bang proseso ng pag-resign at pag-leave sa fraternity? (It would be worthy to ask him ‘what is the process of resigning and leaving the fraternity?’),” Escudero said.
“Salita lamang yun marahil ay para protektahan yung kanyang sarili sa mga alegasyon kaugnay ng pagkamatay ng isang neophyte ng kanilang fraternity (He’s only saying that to protect himself from allegations related to the death of a neophyte in his fraternity),” he added.
Escudero said that if some of Divina’s frat brothers were members of the chat group planning to cover-up Atio’s death, it was “impossible” for him not to know about it.
“Kung iyong mga ibang brod ni Dean Divina alam iyong nangyari…imposible talagang hindi nasabi o hindi niya nalaman na wala man lang nagsabi sa kaniya (If Dean Divina’s other fraternity brothers know what happened…it’s impossible that he wasn’t informed about it),” the senator said.
The senator noted that frat alumni and members of the chat group could also be held liable for obstruction of justice or being accessories to the crime.
“Pwedeng isampang kaso laban doon sa mga tumulong ikubli yung krimen o tumulong o nagpayo na wag humarap sa kapulisan o fiscal, obstruction of justice (Those who helped with the cover-up could be charged with obstruction of justice),” Escudero said.
“May lumabas pa isang pangalan na partner ni Dean Divina…Sabi niya kasi hindi niya daw alam pero isa sa mga partners o dating partners niya sa law office ay bahagi nung chat na ‘yun(There’s a name that cropped up who happens to be a partner of Dean Divina. He says he doesn’t know about it but one of his partners or former partners from his law office was part of that chat group),” he added.
Escudero could be referring to former Isabela congressman Edwin Uy who works with Divina in his law firm Divina Law as senior partner.
Moreover, their participation in the chat group could also be a ground for their disbarment.
The Manila Police District has already filed murder charges against several fraternity members linked to Atio’s hazing death. PNA-northboundasia.com