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Law Students Under Investigation After The Death Of A Fraternity Member

Getting that law degree comes with may uphill battles – it simply doesn’t get any easier. Students try to go to academic wars together by making study groups and joining organizations. It is definitely true that misery loves company and surrounding ourselves with people who fight the same battles with us gives us an instant comfort.

The Headline

September 18, 2017, news broke out that a freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo, III died. His death was linked to hazing done on a fraternity’s initiation procedures. The initiation happened over the weekend in the fraternity’s own library. Horacio asked the permission of his parents with a promise that he will be home on September 17, Sunday morning. With him not returning home as promised, his parents started to get worried of his whereabouts. They tried calling the officers of the said fraternity to make sure that their son is okay. His parents received an anonymous text on the 18th saying that their son was brought into a hospital in Metro Manila, Philippines. The hospital told them that the Scene of the Crime Operatives took their son to the Archangel Funeral Homes in Sampaloc, Manila. The hospital proclaimed Horacio dead on arrival on September 17, 2007, at 9:15 in the evening.

The Victim

Horacio Castillo, III was a freshman law student in the University Of Santo Tomas, Philippines. He earned his undergraduate degree of AB Political Science in the same school. Horacio, according to those who personally knew him, was a happy and good student. He always aspired to be able to serve his country and make his parents proud. This character may be an influence to his great-grandfather, Jose P. Rizal, the country’s national hero.

The students of the University of Santo Tomas light candles for Horacio.

The Fraternity

Aegis Juris meaning “Shield of Justice” is “the most dynamic and active law fraternity” in UST. It is grounded on 5 principles: academic excellence, equality, godliness, integrity, and service. AJF is oldest law fraternity and one of the 8 non-academic organizations within the UST Faculty of Civil Law. They are said to produce the largest number of lawyers within the UST Faculty of Civil Law.  Pioneer members include the current University of Santo Tomas law dean, Nilo Divina.

The Coverup

A man brought Horacio into the emergency room of the Chinese General Hospital in Metro Manila. According to the man who brought him, John Paul Solano, he accidentally found the body of Horacio in the street wrapped in a blanket. He doesn’t know who the boy is or how he ended up in the street. The police and the hospital bought this story, dismissing Solano. It was only a day after the incident that they found out Horacio was a law student who died on a hazing procedure. Solano was discovered to be a member of the fraternity, making him a suspect.

The Suspects

John Paul Solano (yellow) during the Senate hearing on September 25, 2017

John Paul Solano – he is a registered medical technologist and a member of the fraternity. He went into hiding after he gave his statements to the police. On September 22, he turned himself in where gave a statement of the true accounts. He said he was not present at Atio’s hazing. He was only there to help resuscitate him. The frat members, on the initiation, left Solano alone in the hospital, making him the primary suspect.

Ralph Trangia – his vehicle transported the body of Atio from the frat library to the hospital. He and his mother flew to Taiwan 3 days after the news came out of Atio’s death. His parents are facing a case of obstruction of justice.

Arvin R. Balag – he is the fraternity’s incumbent president. He allegedly insisted that Solano should bring the body inside the hospital. This is to avoid any run-ins in the authority and be implicated of Atio’s death.

Oliver John Audrey B. Onofre – he is the one who called Solano to come to the frat library, asking for help after Atio collapsed.

Some of the members who are present in the initiation rights include:

  • Mhin Wei R. Chan
  • Oliver John Audrey B. Onofre
  • Marc Anthony Ventura
  • Axel Munro Hipe

    The Aegis Juris members during the Senate hearing on October 18, 2017

All the names mentioned and 9 more are now facing murder, robbery, and anti-hazing law charges. The parents of Atio also probes the people involved to bring back the watch, eyeglasses, and the cellphone of their son.

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