MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to proceed with the trial of 5 members of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity linked to the fatal hazing of Guillo Cesar Servando, which took place 4 years ago.
The respondents – Daniel Paul Martin Bautista, Vic Angelo Dy, Michael David Castañeda, Francisco Joel Villegas, and Justin Francis Reyes – were identified as among the fraternity members who allegedly participated in the initiation rites that left Servando dead.
Associate Justice Amy Lazaro Javier of the CA’s Special 5th Division nullified two orders issued by Presiding Judge Honorio Guanlao of Makati City RTC Branch 57 – an order issued on December 22, 2015, which dismissed the complaint for violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 8049 or the anti-hazing law, and another issued on February 19, 2016, which denied the prosecution’s motion for consideration.
In a 25-page ruling, Javier said Guanlao “hastily dismissed the case” after the prosecution could not present its witnesses on the scheduled dates during the pre-trial stage.
Guanlao earlier dismissed the case on the grounds that respondents’ right to a speedy trial was violated.
But the CA said: “The Supreme Court has invariably held that delay per se does not offend one’s right to speedy trial. It is the unjustified delay which does.”
It added: “How can there be denial of private respondents’ right to speedy trial when we only speak of no more than 7 days of supposed delay and when the witnesses concerned were not even shown to have received the earlier notices to explain sent out to them by the trial court?”
Servando, who was a student of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, died in June 2014 after Tau Gamma Phi’s initiation rites at One Archers Place in Manila.
Closed-circuit television footage from the condominium showed Servando collapsing along a hallway and being carried away by fraternity members. (READ: To the murderers of Guillo: Live a meaningful life)
CA Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Luisa Quijano Padilla concurred with the ruling. – Rappler.com
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