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Senate cites Aegis Juris leader in contempt

  • Written by Marlon Purificacion and Camille P. Balagtas
  • Published in Metro
  • Read: 407

Frat members dared to undergo DNA test

THE Senate Committee on Public Order yesterday charged with contempt the leader of Aegis Juris
fraternity for his continued refusal to answer questions and repeatedly invoking his right against
self-incrimination during the resumption of Senate hearing on the death of University of Santo Tomas
(UST) law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Senate committee chairman Senator Panfilo Lacson also challenged the frat members to undergo a
DNA test as they continued to withhold information under their “code of silence” in an attempt to
“cover up” each other’s participation in the fatal hazing.
    
Only frat members Jose Miguel Salamat, Zimon Padro, and Aeron Salientes agreed to submit
themselves to a DNA exam.
    
During the hearing, a visibly irked Senator Grace Poe moved to cite Aegis Juris president Arvin
Balag in contempt for his continued refusal to confirm, whether or not he was a member of the
fraternity.
    
“I’m not asking if you performed hazing.  Ikaw ay miyembro ng Aegis Juris, hindi ba? Siguro
naman malinaw yan dahil nandito ka ngayon o nagmamatigas ka na ngayon sa sinasabi mong ‘code of
silence’ dun sa iyong messages?  Poe grilled Balag, who refused to answer yes or no, saying his
testimony may further incriminate him in ongoing cases against him.  
    
The Manila Police District (MPD) said Balag is the Grand Praefectus of the Aegis Juris
fraternity based on the organizational chart of the frat.
    
When Balag invoked his right against self-incrimination for the second time, Poe moved to cite
Balag in contempt, which was immediately seconded by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Lacson immediately
ordered the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to detain Balag after the hearing.
    
Senator   Zubiri also scolded one of the suspects,  John Paul Solano,  for his failure to
submit his sworn statement.
    
Zubiri asked Solano: “Ginag*go mo ba ang committee?” Solano earlier promised the committee that
he will reveal everything that transpired that morning when Atio Castillo died. But Solano failed to
fulfill his promise to the Senate committee saying that his submission of counter-affidavit was
deferred when the complainants requested for the hearing to be moved for them to file supplemental
complaints.
    
“What happened was beyond my control,” Solano told the committee.
    
Meanwhile, Poe has asked dean of UST Faculty of Civil Law Atty. Nilo Divina to go on leave
while the investigation on the death of Castillo is ongoing.
    
But Divina maintained his innocence and denied any knowledge or involvement on the incident
that led to the death of Castillo last month.
    
Divina, however, insisted on holding on to his post despite the series of controversies that
has been hounding him. He said the incident involving Aegis Juris members did not have a bearing on his
competence as college dean, as a professor and as an academician.
    
On reports that Atio went to the law office, the camp of Divina noted that the UST has a
completely time-stamped CCTV footage that at no time did Atio visited the law office and that the Dean
never met him in his law office on that day.

Frat members junk DNA test
    
Most members of the fraternity present during the Senate hearing refused to submit their DNA
samples and undergo an examination to check whether they were present during the hazing rites.
    
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian asked each fraternity member to give their DNA samples to the MPD in
order to “clear their names.”
    
MPD director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel confirmed it is possible to identify the DNA samples of
those present during the hazing rites, after they successfully identified Castillo’s DNA at the paddles
found at the fraternity library located at the corner of Laong Laan and Navarra Streets in Manila,
where Castillo was believed to have undergone brutal hazing.
    
Lacson warned the members that their refusal to participate in the DNA examination could mean
they were present during the hazing of Castillo.
    
“You know, when I hear somebody say  na payag siya eh tiyak na wala sya dun. Pero as long as
you say you don’t want to subject to DNA examination, most probably you were there,” Lacson said.
    
Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Oliver Onofre, Ralph Trangia, Joshua Macabili, Bongget Rogelio, and
Ranie Santiago refused to give their DNA samples.
    
John Paul Solano, a suspect in the Castillo death, said his DNA test would be positive because
he was there that day when he  administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Castillo before he brought
him to the hospital.