Death certificate shows Atio died due to existing heart condition

Lian Buan
(UPDATED) Citing Castillo's death certificate, hazing suspect Solano insists Atio died due to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and not hazing. Castillo's parents say their son died because of blood trauma.

'CAUGHT IN THE MESS.' Suspect John Paul Solano says the consequences are too severe for him who was just caught in the middle of the mess. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The camp of hazing suspect John Paul Solano showed the death certificate of freshman law student Horacio Castillo III on Friday, October 27, to bolster their defense that the fraternity neophyte died from a pre-existing heart condition.

Castillo’s death certificate signed on September 18 by Police Chief Inspector Mesalyn Milagros Probadora showed that the “provisional cause of death” was Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM.

It was signed on the same day by Castillo’s mother Carmina.

In an earlier interview, Castillo’s parents had already denied that their son had HCM, saying he was “healthy and very active.” 

Solano’s first evidence was the medico legal report signed by the same police officer. The medico legal report did not specify a cause of death, but it said that Castillo had HCM. Putting two together, Solano concluded that Castillo died of cardiac arrest due to HCM and not hazing, and therefore he could not be charged with murder. Aegis Juris master initiator Axel Munro Hipe used the same defense. (READ: ‘Axel Hipe was leader of 4-hour hazing of Horacio Castillo III’)

The death certificate is supposedly the Solano camp’s smoking gun.

Solano’s lawyer Paterno Esmaquel said the Manila Police District (MPD) attempted to conceal these details as they were “adverse to the complainants.”

Esmaquel said that the MPD has yet to release the hispathological report on Castillo, which, he said, should have taken only one to two weeks to finalize.

“The undue delay in the release of the said hispathological examination report will raise suspicion on its integrity. We wish such delay is not due to any manipulation to alter the integrity of the result of the said hispathological examination report,” Esmaquel said in a letter sent to Probadora.

“All pieces of evidence presented before any proceeding is disputable unless it is accepted by the judicial authorities as an evidence, it is the judicial authority who will appreciate and evaluate the degree of evidence presented before them,” MPD’s public information office chief Superintendent Erwin Margarejo told Rappler.

Castillo’s father and namesake said on Monday, October 30, that the hispathological report would be more conclusive.

   Death Certificate of Horacio Castillo III by Lian Nami Buan on Scribd

Autopsy and medico-legal report

Castillo’s father disputed Solano’s claims and said the autopsy on his son would show he died of blunt trauma resulting from hazing. “Ask the police about the autopsy report,” the elder Castillo said.

But MPD’s Margarejo said the autopsy and the medico-legal report are the same.

In the medico-legal report, Castllo was found to have: “Area of multiple hematoma, proximal third of the left arm extending to the left forearm measuring 50×41 cm, along its posterior midline with superimposed abrasion, measuring 17×8 cm.”

Hematoma refers to a “collection of blood, usually clotted” as a result of trauma. Esmaquel pointed out that the blunt trauma was not identified as the cause of death.

If Castillo indeed had HCM, the argument now will be whether or not the hazing aggravated the condition which resulted in his death.

Suspect-turned-witness Mark Anthony Ventura said Castillo went through hazing almost 4 hours, which included being beaten up black and blue, and being hit with a paddle until he fell unconscious. (READ: Senators slam Solano for ‘lying, covering up’ death of Atio Castillo)

“If indeed it is true that Horacio is a victim of hazing where he suffered severe physical trauma….Horacio’s kidneys should have acquired some degree of kidney injury due to accumulation of myoglobin and the same could be a cause of acute kidney injury/failure resulting to multiple organ failure,” Solano said in his affidavit.

Asked again on Friday, October 27, if he believes that hazing did not cause Castillo’s death, Solano said he’s just basing his statements on “documents provided by them.” 

Ipit na ipit ako, nung time na yun na-detain ako, na-inquest ako. Nasira na ang pangalan ko, I was kicked out of work, wala na ‘kong trabaho. Ang ginawa ko lang naman ay tumulong at sumagip po. Pinilit ko pong sagipin si Atio, ‘yun lang po ang ginawa ko, ang consequence po ba nun ‘eto, masira ang buhay ko, matanggal ako sa trabaho? ‘Yun po ang masakit,” he said in an interview over ANC’s Headstart

(I’m caught in the middle, I was detained, I was subjected to inquest. My name was tarnished, I was kicked out of work, I don’t have a job. The only thing I did was help. I tried to save Atio, that’s the only thing I did, and are the consequences of that a ruined life, my losing a job for that? That my life is ruined, that I don’t have a job? That’s what hurts.)

Solano was called by fraternity members on the morning of September 17 to ask for his help to revive the unconcious Castillo. Failing that, he joined a convoy to bring Castillo to the hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.


Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.