By Hannah Torregoza
Who is “Big Brother”?
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said most of his colleagues participating in the Senate public order and dangerous drugs probe into University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III’s death believe it is none other than UST Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina.
“Most of my colleagues are of the belief na ang (that the) Big Brother is supposed to be Dean Divina. But definitely ang (the) Big Brother, hindi ang elders (not the elders), as manifested by Atty. Eric Fuentes,” Lacson said.
Fuentes, a member of the group, told senators that the “Big Brother” that was mentioned in the chat message was a “generic term for former Aegis Juris presidents and elder brods. He denied it was Divina, saying they refer to him as “Dean Divina” or “Sir Divina.”
Marc Anthony Ventura, a member of the Aegis Juris, who appeared at the committee hearing supposedly to testify on Castillo’s case, named a certain “Atty. Bernardo” as the big brother.
But Atty. Arnel Bernardo, who was also present at the hearing, said he “was not aware he is being called ‘Big Brother’.”
At the third hearing of the Senate into Castillo’s case, the panel showed a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the law freshman inside the Pacific Star building located at the corner of Buendia and Makati Avenue in Makati City on Sept. 12.
Incidentally Castillo texted his mother that he was at a law office just across Petron on Buendia Ave on Sept. 12.
Castillo’s parents confirmed that their son was indeed the man on CCTV wearing the blue jacket. “It looks very much like him… His mom bought that jacket. He was wearing black pants and black shoes. And also the hairstyle,” Castillo’s father, Horacio Jr., said.
But Divina denied seeing him at Pacific Star; “One thing is for certain, he (Castillo) did not set foot in DivinaLaw. We installed 16 CCTVs in our office and it will clearly show that he did not set foot in Divina Law office.” He said they submitted footages to the committee.
However, Senator Grace Poe said that while Castillo might not have met with Divina, she said the student could have met with senior fraternity members in other areas of the building.
“Is there a possibility that he may not have set foot physically in your office but he may have met a few of your people within the building, maybe a cafeteria or any other common place? It’s not unlikely that DivinaLaw, maintaining an official lease in one particular space there, could also have another place where you meet in the building. Is there a possibility?” Poe asked.
To which Divina responded, “I’m not so sure about that.” According to the dean, there are three law offices in Pacific Star building.
The UST law dean also argued he had distanced himself from the fraternity, including its activities and meetings. During previous hearings, Divina said he took a leave of absence some eight years ago and is not an active member anymore.
But Poe expressed disbelief, citing connections of the fraternity and its activities with the UST dean. For one, she said Pacific Star Building, which houses DivinaLaw, is owned by Century Properties, whose corporate secretary is a “senior partner” at DivinaLaw.
She also revealed that Century Properties also owns Novotel Manila in Cubao, Quezon City where some Aegis Juris fratmen, including some elder members, met in the afternoon of Sept. 17, hours after Castillo’s death.
“From what is clear here he said that he (Castillo) was going to a law office. It could be one of the three, not necessarily yours. All of the connections — Aegis Juris having strong ties with DivinaLaw; DivinaLaw maintaining the website for the school; DivinaLaw having a lot of support for the fraternity; you being the dean and him, mentioning that he is in a law office close to that building or within that building where you have your law firm,” said Poe.
Lacson said he is open to the conclusion that the elusive “Big Brother” who figured in the private chat messages of the members of the Aegis Juris fraternity, could very well be Divina.
“Ako I’m open. Wala akong (I don’t have) conclusion na (that is) strong enough to suspect na si Dean Divina yan. It could be anybody else but not elders. Because may distinction ang pag-describe nila sa elders at sa Big Brother (there is a distinction in the way they describe the elders and the (Big Brother),” Lacson said.
Apparently, Lacson said “Big Brother” is a prominent member of the Aegis Juris fraternity and appears to be the most influential that is why it is relevant to know his identity.
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