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Angie M. Rosales

Lacson dismayed over mere 10 fratmen rapped

Saturday, 10 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

The filing of criminal charges on only 10 out of almost 19 named principal accused in the killing of University of Santo Tomas (UST) freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III during a hazing rite is a source of dismay, according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson. 

“Basing it on the evidence gathered and presented during the public hearings conducted by the Senate on the Atio hazing case, the DoJ (Department of Justice) panel may have overlooked or disregarded the cover-up angle committed by the other frat members not included in the indictment,” Lacson said in a statement.
“The pieces of evidence like the authenticated contents of the group chat participated in by clearly identified members and officers, the video footage and other documents should have been enough for the DoJ to find probable cause to also charge them for being accessories after the fact at the very least,” he pointed out.
Lacson, chairman of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, led the Senate inquiry into the death of Castillo and his panel, in its report submitted to the plenary last Jan. 24, moved for the disbarment proceedings against those members of the Aegis Juris fraternity implicated in the said hazing incident and recommended the filing of criminal charges for obstruction of justice.

The committee asked the DoJ to look into the planned cover up by resident and alumni members based on the information they gathered in the hearings conducted by the Senate.
Sen. Win Gatchalian, on the other hand, viewed the filing of charges by the DoJ as a step closer to achieving justice for Castillo.
A step closer to justice
“I hope that the courts will resolve this case with the utmost diligence so that we can finally put Atio’s killers behind bars,” Gatchalian said.
The senator said he’s happy to hear that those accused of being participants in the brutal killing of Castillo had already been indicted for violating the Anti-Hazing Law.
“This brings us one step closer to achieving justice for Atio,” he said.
Gatchalian has urged his colleagues to expedite the approval of the landmark anti-hazing legislation which will not only regulate but completely prohibit all forms of hazing.
The senator, in standing as co-sponsor of Senate bill 1662 which seeks to amend the Anti-Hazing Law, said the measure will close glaring loopholes in the 23-year-old law that were uncovered by the Senate during its probe on the Castillo case.
The bill establishes clear-cut responsibilities and liabilities of educational institutions in preventing and policing hazing and severely punish resident and alumni members of fraternities who would dare attempt to frustrate the ends of justice by covering up the hazing crimes committed by fraternity brothers, he said.
Last Thursday, the DoJ filed criminal charges against 10 members of Aegis Juris Fraternity over the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III from hazing last September.

11 frat men indicted in Castillo slay case

Friday, 09 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

Eleven members of the Aegis Juris fraternity face violations of anti-hazing law charges for their alleged involvement in the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III in September last year, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement.

The DoJ said murder was not recommended in the charge sheet due to “insufficiency of evidence.”
The cases were filed before the Manila Regional Trial Court with no bail recommended.
Castillo died of “severe blunt traumatic injuries” after attending welcoming rites of the fraternity.
DoJ Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. said a resolution dated March 6 found probable cause to indict 10 Aegis Juris members for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law who are Arvin Balag, Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munrio Hipe, Marcelino Bagtang, Jose Miguel Salamat and Robin Ramos; while charges of perjury and obstruction of justice was filed against John Paul Solano.

The DoJ cleared University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina who was earlier alleged to have knowledge of the hazing rites involving Castillo. The Senate even wanted Divina disbarred despite the clear absence of evidence against him.
Aside from Divina, charges against law faculty secretary Arthur Capili were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.
Charges against 10 other respondents and the Aegis Juris Foundation were also dismissed for lack of probable cause.
In a statement, Divina said he is “happy and relieved to finally be cleared of any wrongdoing in the Atio Castillo hazing case.”
“I have always maintained my full innocence throughout this unfortunate incident, and thankfully, this has now been established beyond question. As they say, the moral arc of the universe may be long, but it bends toward justice,” he said.
“I continue to pray for justice for Atio and have full faith in our legal system,” he added.
The DoJ resolution said respondents in the initiation rites were established by the statements of both respondents Solano and Ventura.
“As regards respondents Balag and Trangia, their presence and participation are further corroborated by the fact that their respective vehicles were used to transport Atio’s body to Chinese General Hospital on September 17, 2017,” it added.
DoJ’s Catalan said the resolution was largely based on the testimony of Mark Anthony Ventura, the Aegis Juris member who has turned government witness.
Catalan called Ventura’s testimony “credible” and “believable”.
Ventura narrated his version of events on the night Castillo underwent initiation rites when the victim was punched, paddled, and made to drink egg yolk he was made to believe was his “masters’” saliva, among others.
Antonio and Rosemarie Trangia, parents of Ralph, were cleared of obstruction of justice. While the woman indeed fled the country with her son, “their eventual return to the Philippines negates her intent to facilitate the escape of the latter,” said the resolution.
The DoJ resolution, however, recommended further investigation on 10 other members of the fraternity to determine their involvement in the crime.
Zubiri: Fratmen
should tell all
Aegis Juris fraternity members should now bare all what they know on the death of Castillo following the filing of charges against them, Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said.
“At this point, I urge all the parties involved to cooperate fully and finally tell all in order to clear their parties involved and aid in the swift resolution of this case,” he said.
Zubiri, who initiated the probe on Castillo’s death in the Senate, welcomed the development in the case.
“This action was one of the recommendations included in the committee report that was filed following the inquiries conducted by the Senate. We have done our part in passing as well a stricter Anti-Hazing Law and so we thank the DOJ for acting on this matter as we all continue to hope for justice to finally be served to the family of Atio,” the senator said.

More bombshells set; Comelec mouthpiece hit

Friday, 09 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

More bombshells on the fraud-tainted conduct of the 2016 automated polls are set to be unleashed on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said.

He added the new revelations will further bolster his claims on alleged poll fraud that marred the 2016 national elections.
“I will present more logs on Monday. (But) I suggest, they wait for the (Senate) hearing. It’s the best venue to plead their case,” Sotto said even as he issued a stern warning against Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez on disputing his allegations.
Sotto, it was gathered, is set to deliver another privilege speech on Monday to dispute Jimenez’s assertions that his “allegations and interpretations of the allegations in his speech are not indications” of the alleged poll fraud and that charges of supposed foreign access to the local election server was unsubstantiated.
Jimenez added that final testing and sealing of some poll precincts take place even on the day of elections but these will not yield enough votes to be mistaken as an actual precinct outcome.
“Test data can’t be mistaken for actual data. If you just say there was data received, you’re lacking a significant part of the context,” he even said.
Sotto would not take sitting down Jimenez’ belittling of the significance of his revelations as he challenged the Comelec spokesman to back up his claims on the alleged “regularity” of transmission of votes even before voters could begin casting their ballots in the May 2016 elections.
“Show me a circular or memo that shows the authorized transmission of votes to the server from May 8 to the wee hours of May 9, 2016,” Sotto said addressed to Jimenez. In a privilege speech delivered Tuesday, Sotto revealed that alleged fraudulent electronic votes were transmitted to the transparency servers and board of canvassers long before the scheduled May 9 national elections formally opened.

But Jimenez, in a press conference the following day, claimed final testing and sealing of some polling precincts take place even during the actual day of elections.
Proof of ineptitude
“The spokesman of the Comelec is making their institution look incapable,” Sotto commented.
“In the absence of such circular, did he just admit that there was indeed irregularity in the 2016 presidential elections?” the senator asked.
With or without an admission from Jimenez, the senator said he will back up his allegations.
“I will present more logs on Monday. I suggest they wait for the hearing. It’s the best venue to plead their case,” he said in a statement.
Sotto also mocked Jimenez for issuing pronouncements which makes him more of a spokesman of technology provider Smartmatic.
“Is Comelec now a spokesman for Smartmatic? Logs are digital footprints that can’t be easily altered. They should present the logs for the areas to deny my claim,” he said.
“I will provide him details (on Monday). He always resorts to alibis. Fine. But I will address their so-called explanations point by point when I deliver my privilege speech on Monday,” Sotto added.
As this developed, Sen. Nancy Binay practically corroborated Sotto’s claims saying that she has been in receipt of similar information last year from a group of IT experts from the Comelec, cautioning her of another alleged possible manipulation of poll results in the coming mid-term elections.
Binay disclosed to reporters that a group of IT experts from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) sought her out sometime last year and presented her documents on alleged manipulation of votes in the last elections.
Based on her recollection, Binay said the group also showed her alleged transmission of votes where there was supposedly a surge of votes on certain candidates.
In dealing with the issue, Binay said she filed a resolution to convene the joint oversight committee on automated elections to look into the matter and which was taken up recently by Sen. Francis Escudero as co-chair of the bicameral panel.
Asked why the group offered her the information, Binay said she could only surmise the possibility that as a re-electionist, the group may have been concerned about her.
She noted the issue that marred the credibility of the voting count machines in 2013 elections there were lines that came out in the printed election returns.
Binay said she remains unsure whether the information given to her is similar to the revelations of Sotto.
Malacañang, nonetheless, welcomed the Comelec’s decision to investigate the alleged poll fraud in the 2016 national elections.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Comelec announced that it would look into the “confidential information” handed to Senator Vicente Sotto III from a “concerned and impeccably reliable source.”
Sotto first bared these alleged irregularities in a privilege speech and called for a Senate investigation.
“We are pleased that Comelec has accepted the challenge to investigate these new information published by Senator Sotto in the Senate,” Roque said.
Roque said President Duterte will not allow another election fraud as long as he is in office.
“The President said that while he is President, he will not allow another election fraud,” he said.
Roque pointed out that it was necessary to find out the truth because Comelec will still be tapping automated election provider Smartmatic for the next elections.
“This is important because Comelec has also tapped Smartmatic to provide automated election services for the next elections,” Roque said.
Roque, meanwhile, denied reports that even the President himself benefited from the alleged poll fraud saying his avid supporters even think he got much more than 16 million votes.
“If you have to ask some of the die-hard supporters of the President in the last election, they feel that they got more votes. So it is not as if they benefited, they lost votes according to his supporters. But the President is happy with his almost six million edge over his closest political rival,” Roque said, referring to former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.


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