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UPDATE : FRAT MAN TURNS HAZING WITNESS

5th paddle killed Atio – DoJ chief

 

THE Department of Justice (DoJ) now holds a vital witness to the hazing death of UST law freshman Horacio Castillo 3rd, tapping one of the top officers of the Aegis Juris Fraternity as a government witness.

Mark Ventura signed up for the witness protection program (WPP) at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, accompanied by his mother Merlene Ventura and lawyer Ferdie Benitez, and bared all that he knew about the September 17 hazing rites that killed Castillo, the DoJ said.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd told reporters that based on Ventura’s testimony, the initiation rites of the law fraternity started at 1 a.m. on September 17, and lasted for more than three hours.

Ten Aegis Juris men joined the brutal rites while others served as lookouts outside the fraternity library on Laon-Laan Street in Manila, including a female. There was drinking, and loud music blared.

“The first physical punishment or initiation was he (Castillo) was punched on the arms…they had a term for it, hanggang hindi pumuputok sa kanyang braso ay tuluy-tuloy lang sila ng pagsuntok (they kept on punching until the arms swelled),” Aguirre said.

“When the arms swelled, they used a spatula to calm the muscles.”

After hitting Castillo with a spatula, he was hit three times with a paddle, Aguirre said. On the fourth time, the 22-year-old neophyte collapsed. The frat men used candle wax to revive Castillo.

“Third paddle against Atio, tinanong pa siya kung kaya pa niya, sumagot pa siya na kaya pa (he was asked if he was still okay, he said ‘yes’),” Aguirre said.

“Fourth paddle…he collapsed already…nung nagkakamalay na, pinaddle ng panglima, nagcollapse uli tapos naging panicky na members ng frat (when he regained consciousness they paddled him for a fifth time, he collapsed again and the frat members panicked),” Aguirre said.

Aguirre said Ventura, listed by the Manila Police District as secretary and “master initiator 2” of Aegis Juris, first went to his office on Tuesday afternoon and was accompanied by his mother and lawyer.

“Mr. Ventura gave us the names of the persons who were present during the initiation rites of Mr. Atio Castillo 3rd. After hearing the narration of Mr. Ventura, I immediately decided to place him under provisional acceptance into the WPP,” he added.

Ventura has executed an affidavit for his formal admission into the WPP.

The WPP entry of Ventura is on the premise that he does not appear to be the most guilty of the crime, Aguirre said.

With his admission to the WPP, Ventura will no longer be indicted if the panel finds probable cause against other respondents.

The MPD welcomed Ventura’s admission to the WPP on Wednesday.

Castillo’s parents have filed complaints against 18 persons, including Ventura, Axel Munro Hipe and fraternity leader Arvin Balag for the death of their son.

Balag was cited in contempt during a Senate inquiry into Castillo’s death last October 18, and was detained at the Senate basement.

Sen. Joel Villanueva warned the Aegis Juris fratmen to tell the truth in the next Senate hearing on Castillo’s death, or else be cited in contempt. Worse, they may end up in Pasay City Jail as there was not enough room for them in the Senate, he said.

(Jomar Canalas, TMT with B. Tamayo and J. Pilapil)