By Jeffrey Damicog
Aegis Juris fraternity president Arvin Balag 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 .
“The charges against me have no basis in fact and in law and should be dismissed outright for utter lack of merit,” read his counter-affidavit filed before the DOJ.
The DOJ is currently conducting a preliminary investigation over the complaints filed by the Manila Police District (MPD) and Atio’s parents against those allegedly involved in the death of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) law freshman.
In the complaints, Balag is accused of violating Republic Act 8049 known as the Anti-Hazing Law and for having committed murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
In his counter-affidavit, Balag said he cannot be held liable for the crimes since his “alleged active and direct participation in the supposed incident which led into the death of Atio was never clearly alleged with particularity and established by the complainants.”
“Complainants likewise presented no witnesses stating my actual direct participation to the supposed illegal hazing done to Atio as a neophyte of Aegis Juris fraternity,” the fraternity official pointed out.
Like his fellow-respondents, Balag also harped that Atio has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) based on the medico legal report of the MPD.
“Simply put, there is no finding in any manner whatsoever that Atio suffered multiple organ failure which is the reported common cause of death from hazing,” he said.
“Thus, the most likely proximate cause of the death of Atio is cardiac arrest because of HCM, and not due to hazing,” he pointed out.
Atio was already dead when he was brought to the Chinese General Hospital in Manila on September 17 following the initiation rites held at the Aegis Juris library.
Though a black Toyota Fortuner with conduction sticker 9864 and registered to Balag was found to have brought Atio to the hospital, Balag said this “does not equate to the commission of hazing or murder without any supporting evidence.”
He also asked the DOJ not to admit as evidence the closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage at the fraternity library submitted by the complainants.
“As a matter of fact, I never appeared in person in the said CCTV video footages. Likewise, the said CCTV video footages also were not authenticated based on the Rules of Electronic Evidence,” Balag said.
The complainants also submitted before the DOJ screenshots of the Facebook conversation of members of the fraternity discussing about the death of Atio.
Balag said this is also inadmissible as evidence since it “violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy of communication and correspondence” which is enshrined in the Constitution.
Co-respondent and fellow Aegis Juris fratman John Paul Solano said in his counter-affidavit said he was contacted to go the fraternity library to help revive Atio and, when he arrived there, he saw five persons including Balag.
Apart from this, news reports have come out citing the sworn affidavit of another respondent who turned state witness, Aegis Juris fratman Marc Anthony Ventura, who said Balag was the last person who hit Atio with a paddle.
Balag is currently detained at the Senate after being cited for contempt for refusing to answer questions from the members of the public order committee which conducted an inquiry over the death of Atio.
Tags: Arvin Balag, Atio, criminal complaints, DOJ, Frat head asks dismissal of hazing case vs. him, hazing, Horacio Tomas, John Paul Solano, Jose Miguel Salamat, Manila Bulletin, Manila Police District
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