UST law student Horacio Castillo III dies in suspected frat hazing

Eloisa Lopez

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UST law student Horacio Castillo III dies in suspected frat hazing
(UPDATED) The parents of Horacio Castillo III say he was recruited by the Aegis Juris Fraternity

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Horacio Castillo III, a first-year law student of the University of Santo Tomas, died Sunday, September 17, from injuries his parents believe were sustained in fraternity hazing initiation rites.

Castillo – “Atio” to his family – was found lying on a pavement, covered with a blanket, in the corner of H. Lopez Boulevard and Infanta Street in Balut, Tondo, Manila at about 7:50 am Sunday, September 17, by medical technologist John Paul Sarte Solano, who was then buying a cigarette.* 

Solano flagged down vehicles passing by the area to bring the then-unidentified victim to the hospital until a red Strada stopped to help him out.

Castillo was brought to Chinese General Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival at 9:21 am.

On Sunday night, Castillo’s parents received an anonymous text, tipping them about their son’s whereabouts. The Castillos found their son’s remains at the Archangel Funeral Home in Sampaloc, Manila, bearing bruises in both arms, cigarette burns, and candle wax drippings all over his body.

Manila Police District spokesperson Erwin Margarejo said on Monday, September 18, the death of Castillo was caused by a cardiac or respiratory arrest, triggered by traumatic injuries.

Margarejo did not confirm that the death of the law student is caused by a hazing incident, however, and insisted that the angle is being especially investigated.

“All angles titingnan natin, but especially hazing, dahil usually naman kapag may hematoma cases, isa sa dahilan ay either torture or hazing,” he said. (We are looking into all angles, but especially hazing, since usually in hematoma cases, one of the causes is either torture or hazing.)

As of posting, Castillo’s parents have yet to finalize their sworn statements with the Manila Police District, where they reported their son’s death Monday. 

VICTIM'S PARENTS. The parents of UST law student Horacio Castillo III reports about their son's death to the Manila Police District Homicide Division September 18, 2017. Photo by Eloisa Lopez/ Rappler

According to a report released by the Manila Police District on Monday, Castillo was wearing a white T-shirt with the words “Political Science, University of the Santo Tomas” printed on it, and blue jersey short pants when his body was found. He was barefoot.

In an interview Monday morning on dzMM radio, Horacio Tomas Castillo Jr, father of the victim, said he believes his son died during a fraternity initiation hazing rites. He said his son was recruited to join the Aegis Juris Fraternity. 

The UST released a statement Monday, expressing “sadness for this unfortunate incident.” The school gave its “profound sympathy and offer our prayers to his family for their pain and anguish… seeing that the life of our very own student…[was] taken away because of a senseless act.”

UST added it condemned “hazing in any form or manner. Violence has no place in an academic institution.” It said it too wanted to make sure “that the perpetrators be meted the appropriate sanctions and brought to justice.”

On Monday afternoon, the dean of the UST Faculty of Civil Law placed all officers and members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity under preventive suspension. They are barred from attending classes and from entering the campus. – 

* An earlier version of this story identified the medical technologist as John Sarte. Sarte is his middle name. We have corrected this to reflect his full name: John Paul Sarte Solano. 

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