It took fratmen 30-40 minutes to bring Atio Castillo to hospital – witness

MANILA, Philippines – Aegis Juris fraternity members waited 30 to 40 minutes before finally deciding to bring an unconscious Horacio "Atio" Castillo III to the hospital, their fraternity brother Mark Anthony Ventura told a Senate panel on Monday, November 6.

Ventura is seeking to be a state witness in the Castillo hazing case, pending his final admission to the Witness Protection Program (WPP) and a court decision to declare him as such. He was provisionally accepted to the WPP.

Ventura, responding to senators' questions through yeses and nos, also said that 4 men paddled Castillo. Ventura claimed he was not one of them.

In his affidavit, Ventura reportedly identified Aegis Juris Grand Praefectus Arvin Balag to be one of the 4. He also said Balag was the one who hit Castillo with the paddle for the 5th and final time, even though the neophyte had already collapsed on the 4th.

Ventura said on Monday that Jose Miguel Salamat tried to stop his fraternity brothers from continuing the assault.

Ventura also said he does not know why Castillo was not taken to the nearest hospital, which is the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital across the road. (READ: Senators grill UST officials over 'inaction' on Aegis Juris)

He also confirmed that the paddle seized from the fraternity library looks the same as the paddle used on Castillo. At the time of Castillo's initiation rites, Ventura was Master Initiator 2, and Axel Munro Hipe was allegedly Master Initiator 1.

Ventura also recalled his own hazing at the hands of his fraternity brothers. It was not clear when he underwent the rites but at the time of Castillo's rites, Ventura was no longer enrolled in UST. He had filed a leave of absence due to health issues.

Aegis Juris hazing

Hazing, Ventura said, normally lasts a week for Aegis Juris neophytes. There are various "services," with the first part called a "psychological war."

Ventura said that for his batch, they were blindfolded and taken somewhere in Batangas. He said he joined late and only arrived in Batangas on the 3rd day, straight to the physical part.

"Puwede po kaming pag push-upin, jumping jack, mga military training, squat," Ventura said. (We can be asked to do push-ups, jumping jacks, military-like training, squats.)

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had revealed in a press conference that Ventura said in his affidavit that Castillo went through 3 stages:

Ventura said the punching usually lasts almost 40 minutes, but with intervals.

On the final day comes the paddling, he said.

Ventura said he was struck with the paddle 10 times. Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri then asked him if he was punched severely. Ventura replied: "Masasabi ko pong sa akin po, opo (I can say that in my case, yes)."

Ventura said they are paddled while only wearing underwear.

"That day na bumiyahe kami, hindi ko na po binibilang oras, nagdadasal na lang ako na makayanan ko (That day that we traveled to Batangas, I wasn't minding the time, I was just praying that I would survive)," Ventura said.

Zubiri said the point of asking Ventura to detail his hazing is to stop the practice altogether. (READ: What you need to know about the Anti-Hazing Law)

"Gusto na nating matigil ito. Alam natin that this will not make you a good person or a good lawyer (We want to stop this. We know that this will not make you a good person or a good lawyer)," he said.

Irvin Joseph Fabella, Aegis Juris' adviser from 2010 to 2016, told senators he did not know about the hazing. (READ: How Aegis Juris fratmen are defending themselves in Atio Castillo slay case– Rappler.com

 

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.

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