MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Monday floated the idea of Aegis Juris Fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura being a “Trojan horse” or a planted witness in the hazing death of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III during the resumption of the Senate hearing on the 22-year-old law student’s case.
“I’m also thinking — this is the malicious part of me being investigator all my life ‘yong posibilidad na si [the possibility that] Marc Ventura, pardon me, a Trojan horse. Have you looked at it? Baka planted ito [Maybe he is planted],” Lacson said while questioning Department of Justice (DOJ) acting Prosecutor Jorge Catalan Jr.
Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, made the statement after he noted some inconsistencies between the testimonies of John Paul Solano and Ventura as to how fraternity members initially acted on an unresponsive Castillo.
Lacson cited Solano’s testimony during the executive session that he had slapped Atio in the face to check for a response and saw his pupils already dilated, which contrasted Ventura’s narration that Solano performed first aid, checked Atio’s pulse and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Meanwhile, Catalan said the DOJ would be having a meeting regarding this issue after DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre returns from the United States and once the department’s investigating panel is given a copy of all the documents regarding Ventura’s testimony.
He also clarified that Ventura was still “provisionally admitted” to the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the DOJ. This means that Ventura, as of the moment, remains to be among the hazing suspects and charges against him will only be dropped once he is he is fully admitted to the WPP.
Ventura applied for the WPP last October 24 and came out with an affidavit detailing the processes of the initiation rites that Atio allegedly went through during the early hours of Sept. 17.
As for the inconsistencies between the narratives of Solano and Ventura, Catalan said the DOJ’s investigating body would determine the credibility of each of their testimonies.
‘I’m no angel but I’m here to tell the truth’
Responding to Lacson’s comments, Ventura denied being a Trojan Horse.
“Your honor. I am not an angel, I am not a saint. But I’m here to tell the truth. Only few good men can tell the truth and nothing but the truth,” Ventura said.
During the hearing on Monday, Ventura did not expound on the details regarding Castillo’s initiation rites due to the confidential nature of the affidavit that he he submitted for the WPP.
“I’m sorry po, your honor. Although I’m very willing po to tell the truth and nothing but the truth po, but in-advise-an po kasi ako na hindi po ako magbanggit ng iba pong details po, specifically po ‘yong mga names po. At doon po sa proper court po I will comply po [I was advised not to mention other details, specifically names. I will comply at the proper court],” he told senators.
Ventura only mentioned that it took about 30 to 40 minutes before fraternity members decided to bring an unresponsive Castillo to the Chinese General hospital.
Without naming names, he said someone initially prevented Atio from being rushed to hospital.
“May pumigil sa pagdadala sa [Someone prevented bringing Castillo to the] hospital?” Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian asked.
“Meron po [Yes, there was],” Ventura replied.
Ventura also told senators that it was his family who urged him to come out and tell the truth regarding the hazing of Castillo.
Some fraternity members refused to answer questions from senators in previous hearings and invoked their right against self-incrimination.
Ventura also recalled his conversations with Castillo who, at the time, was finding his “purpose in life”
“Lagi ko sa kanyang pinapaalala ‘yong sinasabi niya sa akin na tuwing nag-uusap kami. Ang gusto kasi niya purpose [I also remind him of what he was telling me when he talked. He wanted a purpose],” Ventura said.
“Constant reminder ko po sa kanya na ‘yong purpose na ‘yon, hindi kami magbibigay sa ganyan. Magsisimula sa kanya [My constant reminder to him was that the purpose he wanted will not be given by us. It will start from him],” he added.
WATCH VIDEOS OF SEN. PANFILO LACSON ANG AEGIS JURIS MEMBER MARC ANTHONY VENTURE BY NEWS5: