Grace Poe asks Divina to take leave of absence as UST law dean

Camille Elemia
Grace Poe asks Divina to take leave of absence as UST law dean
'Just continue lecturing but you don’t have to be dean,' Senator Grace Poe tells UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina at the Senate hearing on the death of hazing victim Horacio Castillo III

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe has asked University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina to take a leave from his post, following the fatal hazing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Poe made the suggestion during the 2nd Senate hearing on Castillo’s death on Wednesday, October 18.

The senator, citing actions committed by Divina, said it is high time for him to go on leave as dean. Divina is a member of the Aegis Juris fraternity involved in the Castillo slay.

The senator said Divina did not immediately inform Castillo’s parents of their son’s death and waited a day, on September 17, to do that.

“You waited how many hours; you waited until the next day even to tell the parents. That alone is for basic instinct of self-preservation and you’re also the dean of UST,” Poe said.

“So in that case, it’s already somehow affecting your actions. Natural lang ‘yun (That’s only natural), you’re just human. Step aside, as you said there’s an investigating group, let them do your job. Just continue lecturing but you don’t have to be dean,” she added.

Divina, for his part, refused to heed the suggestion and said he has been fair in his dealings. He also said he has not given any undue advantage to the fraternity and has kept his distance from them. (READ: Divina files 3rd libel suit vs Kapunan as he swears innocence in Castillo case)

“I thought about this. [The] interest of the students is what is paramount. I have maintained my neutrality. I’ve said it many times – I’ve kept distance from the fraternity,” Divina said.

Poe, however, continued with her suggestion and said taking a leave from his post would be the best sign of his neutrality.

The connection between Poe and Divina goes back to the 2016 presidential campaign. Estrella Elamparo, one of the petitioners who sought Poe’s disqualification, is a lawyer at the Divina Law firm. (READ: The Scrum: Elamparo vs Poe)

The Supreme Court sided with Poe and allowed her to run for president but she lost to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. –


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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email