MANILA – John Paul Solano, one of the suspects in the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas (UST) freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, has been released from detention at the Manila Police District (MPD), a Department of Justice (DoJ) official said Wednesday.
Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr., said the DOJ issued a six-page resolution, ordering the MPD to immediately release Solano because there is no basis for his continued detention and the criminal charges against him have yet to be resolved.
“He (Solano) is directed to be released attached to the resolution is the release order. We will furnish the counsels as well as the parties of this resolution,” Catalan told reporters in a press conference.
He said Solano cannot be detained and subjected to inquest proceedings because he was not a subject of warrantless arrest.
Solano surrendered to Senator Panfilo Lacson last Friday (Sept. 22) and was turned over to MPD that same day.
Catalan, howeveer, clarified in its resolution released Wednesday that Solano has not yet been cleared of the criminal charges filed against him and these would still have to undergo preliminary investigation.
“The release of the respondent would not mean he is already off the hook. The preliminary investigation that would be conducted would only mean that he would have the opportunity or chance to file his answer,” Catalan explained to reporters.
Last Monday, the MPD filed criminal complaints against Solano and 18 others before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the death of Castillo due to hazing.
Solano is facing a complaint for murder, obstruction of justice, perjury, robbery, and violation of Anti-Hazing Law. He was brought to the DOJ last Monday for inquest proceedings.
But his lawyer Paterno Esmaquel has questioned the inquest proceedings, arguing that his client voluntarily surrendered and was not arrested through warrantless arrest by the police.
He said his client’s continued detention would be in violation of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.
Catalan added that Solano will undergo preliminary investigation where he will be given the chance to submit his counter-affidavit to the complaint filed by MPD.
He said a three-member panel headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva will conduct the preliminary investigations on October 4 and 9 at 2 p.m.
Catalan said it would be the panel who will decide if there is probable cause to indict Solano based on the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation.
“If there is (probable cause) we will file the case in court, if there is none, of course, we will dismiss it. It is the prosecutor who determines in the first place whether or not there is an offense committed and, secondly, what particular offense will be filed in court” he added.
Other suspects facing complaint for murder and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law are other members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity as well members of its sister organization Regina Sorority namely, Antonio Trangia, his son Ralph, Arvin R. Balag, Mhin Wei R. Chan, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Oliver John Audrey B. Onofre, Jason Adolfo Robiños, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Mathew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munro Hipe, Marc Anthony Ventura, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro and Jose Miguel Salamat.
The MPD, in its complaint, noted that a complaint for obstruction of justice will also be filed against Mrs. Rosemarie Trangia, Ralph’s mother.
The camp of Solano, through his lawyer Esmaquel, filed a six-page omnibus motion asking the DOJ to stop the inquest proceedings and/or preliminary investigation of the case until his motion to dismiss is resolved.
Esmaquel said that in an inquest proceeding, the respondent will no longer be able to be given the time to file his counter affidavit.
He assured that Solano has committed to appear voluntarily in the preliminary investigations.
Solano has denied involvement in the hazing last September 16 and claimed he was only called by fraternity brothers to revive the already “half-dead” Castillo at their “fraternity library” at Laong Laan Street in Sampaloc.
Solano was the one who took Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital after sustaining fatal injuries that led to his death during the initiation rites of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.
The younger Trangia has reportedly fled to Chicago a couple of days after the incident Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA – northboundasia.com