(UPDATED – 9:44 p.m.) MANILA – University of Sto. Tomas Law Dean Nilo Divina, along with his law partners and fellow Aegis Juris fraternity members – former Rep. Edwin Uy and Atty. Arthur Capili – submitted their counteraffidavits Monday morning in the criminal case filed for the fatal hazing of neophyte Horacio “Atio” Castillo.
The three swore earlier to their counter-affidavit because they served notice they would not be able to attend the preliminary hearing set at 2:00pm.
Divina, Uy and Capili are among the respondents in the supplemental complaint filed by the family of Atio Castillo, who died after an overnight initiation rites that ended early morning of Sept. 17, 2017, as he became unresponsive..
Divina denied all allegations against him, and said he had nothing to do with the alleged cover-up by fraternity officials, which embroiled some Aegis Juris alumni after Manila police revealed the thread of a Facebook chat group.
He sought the dismissal of the charge that he violated the anti-hazing law, adding that certain parties were apparently bent on dragging him into the case solely for the purpose of shaming him.
“All I can say is there is no basis to hold me liable. This complaint should be dismissed. It is obviously being driven by some quarters to prosecute and humiliate me. But the facts bear me out – that I have no liability, I have no accountability, I have no knowledge of the hazing incident and I am not party to any cover-up,” said Divina.
He considered a welcome development the surfacing of fraternity member Marc Ventura, who has been admitted into the Department of Justice Witness Protection Program.
Ventura admitted being present at the initiation rites and gave investigators full details of the events before, during and after the hazing. He also listed nine more names that were not in the probers’ original list of participants.
“As I’ve said, it is a welcome development so the truth will be made available or be told to everybody,” Divina said of Ventura’s decision to tell all.
Divina said he was seriously considering resigning from the fraternity, but after the case of Castillo is resolved.
“I am considering after this case. Not as dean. After this case, I will consider it. Many things. Something i have to consider after this case.”
The Castillo family would not accept an explanation of Divina that he did not know Atio personally, which was why he did not promptly relay information to the family.
Carminia, Atio’s mother, said in reaction that, as soon as they had the family name, “they have a capability” to find out details “because he is a UST student.”
As the preliminary investigation progressed, the legal counsel of fraternity president Arvin Balag, who remained under detention at the Senate, likewise turned in his counter-affidavit to DOJ.
The affidavit indicated that there is no testimony against him, so Balag’s argument was for the complaint against him to be quashed.
He denied any knowledge about the series of message exchanges among Aegis Juris members that took place on Facebook. Besides, it was pointed out, the Facebook chats were deemed inadmissible as evidence anyhow.
Balag also leaned toward the medico legal report indicating that the cause of Atio’s death was cardiac arrest due to a pre-existing heart condition.
“There is no finding in any manner whatsoever that Atio suffered multiple organ failure which is the reported common cause of death from hazing,” the affidavit pointed out.