UST Law dean will not resign over Atio Castillo hazing case

Lian Buan
UST Law dean will not resign over Atio Castillo hazing case
'I did all I could have done under the circumstances to prevent incidents of hazing from happening during my watch as Dean of the UST Faculty of Civil Law,' says Nilo Divina

MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina will not resign over the hazing death of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

“I will never allow the wrongdoings of some and the unfair accusations of a few to get in the way of my fulfilling my job as Dean,” Divina said in a statement on Thursday, January 25.

The Senate public order committee committee that probed the death released their report on January 24, recommending the disbarment of Divina and calling for his resignation.

Divina and other fellow alumni of the Aegis Juris Fraternity were recommended disciplinary actions by the Senate committee for alleged involvement in the hazing.

“My conscience is clear. I did not do anything wrong, illegal or unethical. I did all I could have done under the circumstances to prevent incidents of hazing from happening during my watch as Dean of the UST Faculty of Civil Law,” he said.

Divina is also facing a separate disbarment case filed by the camp of Lorna Kapunan and Patricia Bautista. Kapunan is the lawyer of the Castillo family, but she also represents Bautista in a case against former elections chairman Andres Bautista, who is Divina’s close friend.

Divina’s role

Though Divina said he’s a non-active member of the fraternity, the committee said evidence indicated that he still has ties to Aegis Juris.

If he remains dean of the UST Faculty of Civil Law, the Senate committee said “possible student witnesses may opt to remain silent out of fear of jeopardizing their grades and ultimately their chances of graduating.”

“I understand that as a Dean who happens to also be a member of the Fraternity, all my actions, despite conscious efforts on my part to be totally impartial, will naturally be subjected to extraordinary scrutiny,” Divina said.

He added: “Nonetheless, I remain confident of vindication regardless of the accusations hurled or charges that have been filed or may still be filed. 

The other alumni implicated in the Senate report are those being accused of trying to cover up the death, by helping the students cover their tracks after Castillo died in the hospital.

Divina said he has no knowledge of the alleged coverup attempts and that he “consistently cooperated with authorities.”

“In fact, I volunteered my assistance to the authorities, helped convince one of the suspects to surrender, and religiously attended all the Senate hearings,” he said.

The charges of murder, violation of the anti-hazing law and perjury have been submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for resolution. Divina is charged along with the student members of Aegis Juris fraternity.

Castillo’s family is hoping that the tell-all affidavit of fraternity officer Marc Ventura, who was present during the hazing rites, would help them score a conviction. – Rappler.com

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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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.