By Jeffrey Damicog
University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the criminal complaints against him over his alleged involvement in the death of hazing victim Horacio Tomas “Atio” Castillo III.
“Indeed, while the full force of the law should be used to bring justice those responsible for the death of Atio, we should also not allow his memory to be tainted with the persecution of innocent people in his name,” read the counter-affidavit he filed before the DOJ today (October 30).
“For it is also a grave injustice to lay the blame on conjectures and twisted logic,” he added.
Divina is facing before the DOJ criminal complaints filed by Atio’s parents, Carmina and Horacio Jr., for violating Republic Act 8049, the Anti-Hazing Law; murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code; and Presidential Decree 1829.
The law dean lamented he was only named as a respondent in the case being the trustee of the Aegis Juris fraternity and alleged knew about the initiation rites held for Atio on September 17 when he died.
“In this case, complainants could not point to a single circumstance showing I had prior actual knowledge of this particular hazing incident,” Divina said.
The law dean called as hearsay the claim of Atio’s parents that the UST law freshman was at his law office on September 12 based on the victim’s text messages to his parents.
“The allegation that ‘Atio visited and paid a courtesy call on respondents Divina and Capili at DivinaLaw’s offices on 12 September, 2017’ is a complete and utter falsehood,” he stated.
Divina said that he does not personally know Atio and that the neophyte had visited his law office on September 12.
“More importantly, Atio did not even mention my name or law firm,” said Divina who note there are several law offices located on the building where his law firm is.
To erase doubts, Divina also attached to his counter-affidavit a copy of the footage of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at his firm on September 12.
Aside from this, Divina said when he became dean he took leave from the fraternity to discharge his functions “impartially and effectively.”
Divina added UST has a strong anti-hazing policy and, to complement this, he “prohibited fraternities and sororities from recruiting firs-year law students so that the latter can focus first on their studies and make a more informed decision later whether to join an organization or not.”
The law dean said he only heard an unconfirmed report about the death of Atio just before noon on September 17 from co-respondent, law partner and UST Civil Law faculty Secretary Arthur Capili.
After ordering Capili to get more details, Divina said he only got the initial details of the incident from news reports in the morning of September 18.
Because of this, Divina said he immediately imposed a preventive suspension against those who may be responsible in accordance to the Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education.
He said the suspension should not be mistaken as obstruction of justice as he added he could have not reported to police what happened at the initiation rites since he did not know what actually took place.
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