MANILA— Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday said that John Paul Solano may become a witness in the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman Horatio “Atio” Castillo III.
Last Monday night, Solano named at least six individuals allegedly responsible for the death of Castillo.
“It is possible but he has not yet applied,” Aguirre said, referring to Solano’s possible inclusion in the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
The Justice Secretary, meanwhile, denied offering WPP coverage to Solano.
“We have no offer to him,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre, however, reiterated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is open to any witness who may want to apply.
He said those wanting to become a witness should submit an application form and execute an affidavit which will be subject to evaluation.
To be under the WPP, a potential witness has to submit an application and execute an affidavit.
The WPP provides protection and other benefits to government witnesses in various cases.
Following an executive session on Monday night, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who was privy to the details, said Solano linked six members of the Aegis Juris fraternity members and another individual who is not a member to the incident.
“He named at least six frat members and mahalaga ‘yan sa imbestigasyon (and that is important to the investigation). He mentioned a lot of details,” Zubiri told reporters. He said Solano’s information would help the Manila Police District (MPD) pursue other frat members.
Meanwhile, the Manila Police District (MPD) on Monday filed criminal complaints against Solano and 18 others before the DOJ in connection with the death of Castillo due to hazing.
Solano, who underwent inquest proceeding is facing multiple charges of murder, obstruction of justice, perjury, robbery, and violation of Anti-Hazing Law.
Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Villanueva conducted the proceedings which was attended by MPD officers and Castillo’s parents, Horacio II and Carminia.
Other suspects facing complaint for murder and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law are other members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity as well as members of its sister organization Regina Sorority namely, Antonio Trangia, his son Ralph, Arvin R. Balag, Mhin Wei R. Chan, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Oliver John Audrey B. Onofre, Jason Adolfo Robiños, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Mathew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Axel Munro Hipe, Marc Anthony Ventura, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro and Jose Miguel Salamat.
The MPD, in its complaint, noted that a complaint for obstruction of justice will be filed against Mrs. Rosemarie Trangia, Ralph’s mother.
The camp of Solano, through his lawyer Paterno Esmaquel, filed a six-page omnibus motion asking the DOJ to stop the inquest proceedings and/or preliminary investigation of the case until his motion to dismiss is resolved.
Esmaquel said that in an inquest proceeding, the respondent will no longer be given the time to file his counter affidavit.
“It’s clear in the rule. Inquest proceeding is proper only if the accused is arrested by virtue of warrantless arrest. He was not arrested by virtue of warrantless arrest. He voluntarily surrendered, and in fact, it was the police who prepared the affidavit of voluntary surrender, and now they submitted an affidavit of arrestor. We have that copy,” Esmaquel told reporters after the inquest proceedings.