Senate probe into fatal hazing of UST law freshman sought

MANILA — A senator on Wednesday filed a resolution calling for a probe into the death of Horacio Tomas “Atio” Castillo III, a 22-year-old freshman law student who was allegedly killed due to hazing during fraternity initiation rites.

Under Senate Resolution No. 504, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri wanted to investigate Atio’s “gruesome” death noting that no parent deserves to lose a child due to hazing.

Zubiri, in a privilege speech, said that he personally visited the wake of Atio Tuesday night and had the chance to speak to his father, Horacio Jr., who was his grade school and high school classmate in Colegio San Agustin.

He also extended condolences to Atio’s family. His sister and aunt were present during the Senate plenary session on Wednesday.

The senator added that the action of Dean Nilo Divina of the UST Faculty of Civil Law in suspending members of the frat, Aegis Juris, and preventing them from attending classes or entering the school premises is “highly suspicious.”

He said it will give investigators a hard time locating the members.

The senator, meanwhile, challenged Divina and other faculty members of the UST Faculty of Civil Law to cooperate in the investigation.

He also urged the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to place the frat members under watch list or on hold departure order following reports that some members were told to leave the country or that some have left the country.

Meanwhile, he added that he “cringed” at the thought that the current Anti-Hazing law has become just a law in the paper, ineffective in regulating and preventing deaths from hazing.

“Clearly, regulating hazing as specified in the current law, is a failure,” Zubiri said.

“It is about time that we prohibit hazing. We need to pass a new law that will not only regulate hazing but prevent it outright,” he added.

Both Zubiri and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian have filed bills repealing the Anti-Hazing Law.

“What differentiates the bill from the current law is that hazing is banned or prohibited under the bill, while the current law merely regulates it,” Zubiri said.

Moreover, it also penalizes mere participation in hazing while the current law only penalizes the participants if the hazing results in injury or death.

The probe into Atio’s death was referred to the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Lacson requested to have the first hearing on Monday (September 25).