DOJ issues another lookout order vs ‘persons of interest’ in Atio case

By , on October 26, 2017

FILE: Lawyer Nilo Divina (Photo: Divina Law website)
FILE: Lawyer Nilo Divina (Photo: Divina Law website)divina

MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued another immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against “persons of interest” including University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law dean Nilo Divina and 13 lawyers in connection with the death of University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman Horacio ‘Atio’ Castillo III due to alleged hazing.

The release of the updated lookout order was made following the revelations made by Aegis Juris fratman Marc Anthony Ventura who decided to turn state witness in the case.

Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II Aguirre issued an ILBO covering only 20 members of the Aegis Juris fraternity linked in Castillo’s death.

Aguirre ordered Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente to place the 46 persons under the supplemental LBO in Castillo’s case including Divina.

Apart from Divina, also in the list are trustees of the Aegis Foundation Inc., which occupies the frat library where the hazing was conducted. They are Arthur Capili, William Merginie, Cezar Tirol, Oscar Ce, Alexander Flores, Alvin Dysangco, Emmanuel Velasco, Henry Pablo, Gabriel Robeniol, Michael Joseph Fernandez, Allan Christopher Agati, Paulino Yusi, Arnel Bernardo and Edwin Uy. Both Divina and Capili are also trustees, based on the complaint while Velasco died in 2013.

The new order brought to 67 the total number of individuals now covered by LBO in connection with Castillo’s fatal hazing.

“Considering the gravity of the offense allegedly committed, there is a strong possibility that the following individuals may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal process by leaving the country,” Aguirre said in his memorandum to Morente.

“In order not to derail the ongoing investigation, we thus deem the issuance of an ILBO against the subject individuals prudent in order to, at least, monitor the itineraries of their flight, travel, and/or whereabouts,” he explained.

With this, Aguirre instructed “all immigration officers to be on the lookout/alert for the above-named individuals should he pass through the immigration counters in any of our international ports and/or seaports.”

Once spotted, Immigration officers are also told to immediately contact the office of Aguirre, the Senate of the Philippines Committee Affairs Bureau, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for “any pertinent information, especially those tending to indicate that the subject individual is attempting to leave the country.”

Unlike a hold departure order issued by a court, which automatically prevents the subject from leaving the country, the LBO is issued for monitoring purposes only just like the previous watchlist order.

Individuals listed in the immigration lookout bulletin may be allowed to leave the country after securing an Allow Departure Order (ADO) from the DOJ.

Aguirre said the names subject of the latest LBO were cited in the Senate inquiry on the hazing case.

However, Aguirre added in the LBO the late Cavite chief prosecutor Velasco who is one of the former trustees of the fraternity but died in 2013.

In adding the name of Velasco, Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes only explained “better safe than escape.”

Covered by the first ILBO are Arvin R. Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Marc Anthony Ventura, Axel Mundo Hipe, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Jason Adolfo Robiños, Ralph Trangia, Ranie Rafael Santiago, Danielle Hans Mattew Rodrigo, Carl Mattew Villanueva, Aeron Salientes, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro, Jose Miguel Salamat and John Paul Solano.Ged Villanueva, Milfren Alvarado, Daniel Ragos and Dave Felix.

Charges of murder, violation of Republic Act 8049 (Anti-Hazing Law), perjury and obstruction of justice have already been filed against the 37 Aegis officials and by the Manila Police District and the Castillo family.

Ventura has been accepted in the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Aguirre said Ventura provided detailed accounts on what transpired from the time that Castillo was admitted as neophyte until his untimely death in the early morning of September 17.

In a six-page affidavit submitted to the DOJ, Ventura said the 23 members of their fraternity were all present during Castillo’s initiation rites held in their library last Sept. 17.

Ventura, who participated in the hazing gave nine new names – Edric Pilapil, Zach Abulencia, Daniel Ragos, Dave Felix, Sam Cagalingan, Alex Cairo, Luis Kapulong, Kim Cyrill Roque and Ged Villanueva.

He also confirmed the participation of their fraternity president Arvin Balag, master initiator Axel Munro Hipe and 12 other members already charged before the DOJ – Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Daniel Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Karl Matthew Villanueva, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Marcelino Bagtang, Zimon Padro, Jose Miguel Salamat, Leo Lalusis, Alex Bose and Robin Ramos.

Ventura also recalled a female companion of Bose present in the library during the initiation rites.

Ventura is among the 37 respondents facing charges for murder, robbery, violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, perjury and obstruction of justice in the DOJ.

Sought for a comment, Divina welcomes the decision of Ventura to come out and shed light on the facts is a most welcome development.

“I trust that Mr. Ventura tell the whole truth in the spirit of remorse. I hope that others will follow suit,” Divina said in a statement.

He also commend the DoJ, in particular Secretary Aguirre, for his relentless efforts to reach out to possible witnesses by offering them protection through the Witness Protection Program this only shows his commitment to ferret out the truth and bring to justice those who may be responsible.

For inclusion in the look-out bulletin, Divina said “it is indeed unfortunate it has become increasingly clear that I have no liability because I have no prior actual knowledge of the alleged hazing incident and I am not a party to any cover-up. Nevertheless, I will comply with whatever order the DOJ may issue.”

“In fact, I just came from two overseas business trips. In both cases, I had to cut short my trip and adjust my schedule to be able to attend to Senate Committee and DOJ hearings. I am committed to fulfill my duties that require my presence. At the same time, I will not hesitate to challenge any act which transgresses my right. I remain confident that in time my name will be cleared and I will be vindicated,” he said. (PNA)