Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday expressed dismay on the statement of hazing suspect John Paul Solano, claiming that University of Santo Tomas (UST) law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III died due to pre-existing heart disease and not because of the injuries he had obtained from the alleged initiation rites conducted by the Aegis Juris fraternity.
“Ngayon naman ay hindi na ang Senado ang ginagago ni John Paul Solano kundi ginagago na niya ang buong Pilipinas [Now it’s not only the Senate John Paul Solano is fooling but the entire nation],” Zubiri said.
“The people cannot be fooled by this quack who is simply out to save his skin and now hunting an escape goat by blaming Atio himself for his own death,” he added.
The senator, who earlier delivered a speech at the senate which called the investigation into Castillo’s case, dismissed Solano’s argument as mere excuses.
“Regardless of any pre-condition which the parents completely deny, it is obvious that Solano and his lawyers are just conjuring excuses for Atio’s murder,” the senator said.
“How can they explain the discoloration of the body due to massive hematoma? How can they dispute the medico-legal finding of DNA of Atio on the paddle used by the Aegis Juris fratmen?” Zubiri asked, adding that the use of paddle is illegal under the Anti-Hazing Law.
Zubiri said the hazing suspect’s claim clearly show a “massive disrespect” for Castillo, his family, and the Filipinos.
“Their alibi clearly shows a massive disrespect for Atio, his Family and the Filipino people. Does he even have proof of his statement?” he said.
Having grown up in the same neighborhood, the senator explained that the whole community knows Castillo is an athlete being a football player of Colegio San Agustin.
“Solano is blatantly lying through his teeth to cover up the criminal acts of his frat brods. He is acting like a criminal sydicate member! He should be punished as well for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury for the death of Atio Castillo,” Zubiri uttered.
Zubiri filed Resolution No. 504 that initiated the series of Senate investigations by Sen. Panfilo Lacson as Chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Drugs.
Meanwhile, Arvin Balag, who is believed to be the president of the fraternity, is detained at the Senate for contempt as he declined to answer and obscured questioning during the Senate investigation.
Pre-existing heart disease
On Tuesday afternoon, Solano, one of the main suspects in Castillo’s death, claimed that the latter died because of his pre-existing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).
“It bears to stress that from the said medico legal report it is clearly found and stated therein that the heart of Horacio is grossly enlarged and weighed 450 grams. The normal weight of the heart of a person is only 300 grams, more or less and thus it is true that the heart of Horacio is grossly enlarged,” Solano’s counter affidavit stated.
“This is a very significant finding in the said medico legal report which it appears was conveniently omitted by the complainants and the MPD in the instant complaints to apparently cover up the fact that the death of Horacio was brought about by cardiac failure due to his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM),” it added.
Thus, Solano argued that without any finding on the cause of the freshman law student’s death, he could not be held criminally liable for Castillo’s death and for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law.
Castillo’s parents, however, denied their son had a heart complication, saying that he is a football player and is very active.
“He is a football player. He is a goal keeper. Wala siyang sakit sa puso [He has no heart disease],” Carmina said.
Castillo’s father, Horacio Jr., said they know that before he entered the University, Castillo was required of a medical certificate.
“He was given a clean bill of health by the school,” he said.
“What led to my son’s death was because of blunt trauma coming from hazing that caused extreme pain and suffering to my son that caused maybe the heart attack,” he added.