MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE2 – 4:27 p.m.) The Department of Justice has issued a new Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order against 65 “persons of interest,” including Nilo T. Divina, dean of the University of Sto. Tomas Faculty of Civil Law, and a Court of Appeals justice over the hazing death of law school freshman Horacio Castillo III.
The order adds more names to the original ILBO issued by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II late last month against 16 members of the Aegis Juris fraternity and was issued a day after Marc Anthony Ventura, who admitted to participating in the hazing of Castillo, was admitted into the Witness Protection Program on Wednesday.
Aguirre’s “urgent memorandum” referred to the October 18 hearing by the Senate into Castillo’s death, during which a social media group chat as well as a meeting in a hotel in which fraternity members supposedly discussed how to cover up the incident were discussed.
Many of the names included in the new order were included on the request of the Philippine National Police and include a number of lawyers.
“Considering the gravity of the offense allegedly committed, there is a strong possibility that the following individuals may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal processes by leaving the country,” the order read.
Divina is number 51 in the list. Divina issued a statement in reaction to this latest development:
“It is an unfortunate but not entirely unexpected development. It is clear that I have no liability because I have no prior actual knowledge of the alleged hazing incident and I am not a party to any cover-up. Nevertheless, I will comply with whatever order the DOJ may issue. In fact, I just came from two overseas business trips. In both cases , I had to cut short my trip and adjust my schedule to be able to attend to Senate Committee and DOJ hearings. I am committed to fulfill my duties that require my presence. At the same time, I will not hesitate to challenge any act which transgresses my right.”
Divina said he remained “confident that in time my name will be cleared and I will be vindicated.”
Dead prosecutor included on list
Number 33 on the list is Court of Appeals Associate Justice Gabriel T. Robeniol, a member of Aegis Juris’ board of trustees.
Also in the list are other UST officials and senior Aegis Juris members, as well as former Isabela representative Edwin Uy.
Interestingly, the list includes the late Cavite State Prosecutor Emmanuel “Manny” Velasco, son of former National Bureau of Investigation director Epimaco Velasco, who died in 2013.
“Better safe than [having someone] escape.” This is how the DOJ rationalized its inclusion of the late prosecutor Velasco in the new ILBO.
According to DOJ Undersecretary Erickson Balmes, they were not aware that Velasco had died – even though Velasco had been a high-profile special prosecutor, once assigned to handle heinous crimes.
The subjects of an ILBO are not prevented from leaving the country. But such an order requires the Bureau of Immigration and other agencies to monitor them and immediately inform the DOJ should they travel.