(UPDATE 5 — 4 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — John Paul Sarte Solano, among the principal suspects in the death of University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio Tomas “Atio” Castillo III, has surrendered to Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Accompanied by UST Law Dean Nilo Divina, Solano went to the office of Lacson at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig Friday afternoon. Manila Police District (MPD) Director Joel Coronel was also in Lacson’s office.
Before he was turned over to the MPD, Solano told reporters that he didn’t have a hand in the killing of Castillo because he was not there when the latter was undergoing initiation rites. He said he was just called up by those who were with Castillo because “they were in chaos that time.”
“I was not there…they called at that time…I am a registered medical technologist…I resuscitated Atio…He’s half-dead, he’s unconscious. I did give a CPR when I can’t do anything else, I brought him to the hospital,” said Solano.
He also denied that he was the one who had recruited Castillo to join Aegis Juris Fraternity. According to Solano, he was a UST law student in 2016 but filed a leave of absence the following year.
“I don’t know him (Castillo) personally. We only met twice,” Solano said.
He apologized to the police “for giving a false statement” and also to the parents of Castillo “for the death of their son.”
“I will help shed light on this matter through my attorney…I want to clear my name because I know myself, I’m innocent,” Solano said, adding that he had decided to come out and surrender because “it’s getting worse,” but did not give details.
MPD spokesperson Supt. Erwin Margarejo said Solano would undergo inquest for violation of Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code or the willful assertion of a falsehood under oath and R.A. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law.
Coronel earlier said Solano “deliberately misled” authorities by giving false statements about the death of Castillo.
Solano claimed in his voluntary sworn affidavit that he didn’t know Castillo and that he just saw him last Sunday, Sept. 17, wrapped in a think white blanket on the corner of a street in Balut, Tondo.
Solano, who only disclosed that he is working as a part-time medical technologist at the San Lazaro Hospital, also said in his affidavit that he rode a motorcycle to buy cigarette at the corner of H. Lopez and Infanta streets where he saw Castillo’s body.
He then claimed that he had flagged down a red Mitsubishi Strada pickup to help him bring Castillo to the Chinese General Hospital, where the victim was declared dead on arrival.
But police found out through a CCTV footage that Solano knew Castillo as the two were seen walking together outside UST on Dapitan Street in Sampaloc, Manila with other students past 5 p.m. on Sept. 16, a day before Solano claimed that he saw the victim’s body on the street.
Authorities likewise found out that Solano was also a UST law student and a member of Aegis Juris, who allegedly recruited Castillo to join the fraternity.
Earlier, officials of Barangay 133 disputed Solano’s claim that he found Castillo at the corner of H. Lopez and Infanta streets. The barangay’s CCTV recordings showed there was no body found in the area at the time when Solano claimed that he saw Castillo’s cadaver.
Also, authorities found out that the Strada pickup with plate number ZTV 539 that Solano supposedly flagged down to help him bring Castillo to the hospital belonged to Antonio Trangia, whose son, Ralph Caballes Trangia, is also a member of Aegis Juris.
Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Ma. Antonette Mangrobang said the agency’s records showed that Ralph left for Taipei, Taiwan last Tuesday, Sept. 19, on Eva Air flight BR262.
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