MANILA — Malacañang on Monday welcomed the decision of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to expel eight law students implicated in the hazing death of UST law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
“We think it’s the right step forward,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a Palace briefing.
Roque pointed out that expelling the eight law students sends a clear message that schools will not tolerate violence on campuses.
He, however, said that expulsion was “only the beginning,” noting that criminal prosecution for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law should also be carried out.
On Sunday, The Varsitarian — the official student publication of the university — posted a statement from the school administration that the committee investigating the death of Castillo found the eight students guilty of violating the university’s Code of Conduct and Discipline and said it would impose expulsion over the law students. The names of the students were, however, withheld.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) panel is expected to come up with a resolution in connection with the preliminary investigation on the criminal complaints concerning Castillo’s death by mid-February.
Pending before the DOJ are complaints of murder, violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, obstruction of justice, robbery and perjury separately filed by the Manila Police District and Castillo’s parents against more than 30 people, most of them members of the UST-based Aegis Juris fraternity.
The DOJ panel initially wrapped up its preliminary investigation last November 16 but re-opened it after receiving a copy of a sworn statement from suspect-turned-witness Marc Anthony Ventura last month. PNA-northboundasia.com