MANILA, Philippines — Aegis Juris member John Paul Solano “told all” from the moment his fraternity brothers called him up to try to revive a fatally injured Horatio Castillo III to when they supposedly told him to lie about the circumstances of the neophyte’s death, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said Tuesday.
Solano gave his account in a closed door session Monday night where, Zubiri said, he also named six fraternity members and one non-member who know the details of hazing, including the four who accompanied him take the lifeless Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital.
Zubiri’s disclosure came as the sub-committee of the House of Representatives’ justice panel has recommended a total ban on hazing in a bill it is crafting to give the current law more teeth.
“House Bill No. 3467 does not regulate hazing, it expressly prohibits any form of hazing,” Bagong Henerasyon party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy, one of the bill’s authors, said.
Zubiri, meanwhile, called on the Manila Police District and the Department of Justice to follow the process and not take shortcuts in filing a case against Solano, who has been slapped with murder, perjury, obstruction of justice, and robbery charges following inquest proceedings.
The senator said Solano resented the charges, which did not comply with the terms of his surrender to authorities, and has thus refused to disclose his sworn affidavit.
Noting that Solano was not asking that the charges against him be downgraded, Zubiri agreed that the surrendered fraternity member be accorded a preliminary investigation before complaints are filed.
Zubiri also said a number of senators have expressed willingness to offer Solano protection if he is threatened.
The senator said Solano’s account and his insistence that he did not participate in the hazing appeared credible, pointing to closed circuit television footage showing the fraternity member, who is a medical technician, working in his father’s clinic at the time of the hazing and also leaving their home at the time he had been asked to go to the Aegis Juris headquarters.
Zubiri said Solano had agreed to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s suggestion to share his account with Castillo’s parents.
He described Solano as calm during his recounting and relieved as he ended. Nevertheless, he said senators advised him to disclose his sworn affidavit as early as possible to ease the pressure on him by any quarters who might seek to cover-up the incident.
He added that Solano’s lawyer, Paterno Esmaquel Sr., a founder of Aegis Juris, admitted that fraternity members were divided, with some, particularly elders, believing those involved in Castillo’s death should face up to their responsibilities and others wanting to protect them.
At the House, Herrera-Dy said the bill they are pushing incorporates the “lessons learned” from the hazing deaths of Marvin Reglose and Lenny Villa, and that of Castillo, and also takes into account proposals from the Supreme Court to address gaps not covered by current laws.
The bill proposes the following:
- An expanded definition of hazing that provides that suffering includes not only physical, but psychological
- Definition of initiation rites, as the current law does not provide such
- Requirement of the presence of at least two representatives of the school during the initiation. This way, there cannot be any secret initiation. The school representative is duty-bound to make sure no harm is inflicted upon the recruit, neophyte or applicant
- Mandatory registration of fraternities and sororities in schools, or community-based fraternities and sororities with the local government units
- Listing of impermissible defenses, which means that consent of the victim is not a defense
- Imposing fines as part of penalties aside from imprisonment
The measure will be tackled in the mother committee for its approval.
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And here is a related report by Romel Lopez of News5: