UP frat attacks: 'Suspects used baseball bat, lead pipes'

MANILA, Philippines – The suspects who attacked fellow University of the Philippines students in Diliman, Quezon City, on the day of their school's founding anniversary reportedly used a baseball bat and lead pipes as weapons to maul their victims, a police report showed.

Of the 10 suspects, 5 are in police custody as they prepare to post bail on Monday, June 22, while the rest remain unidentified and at large.

The police investigation showed that around 3 pm on Thursday, June 18, Jesus Blas Vitangcol, 22, and Joevie Dela Cruz, 21, were walking inside the UP campus when the suspects, who wore bonnets, alighted from their car "then without provocation struck Vitangcol repeatedly on his head and different parts of his body using lead pipes and baseball bat."

"Dela Cruz managed to parry the attack and when he was about to help Vitangcol, he was hit on his left hand. Suspects hurriedly left the area in the vehicle leaving Vitangcol unconscious and bleeding from head wounds," said the report signed by Police Superintendent Richard Fiesta, Anonas Police Station commander.

Dela Cruz asked for help from bystanders and security personnel, and also texted his co-students and friends for help.

About an hour after the first incident, Ernesto Luis Martino Pangalagan, 20, drove to the site when 5 suspects wearing bonnets – also armed with lead pipes and a baseball bat – alighted from a van and struck his vehicle, inflicting injuries on him as well.

The incident was witnessed by a female guard who was assigned in the area. Student Mario Andrefanio Santos, 24,  who was driving by, saw what happened and tried to chase the fleeing suspects, but the latter bumped his vehicle and escaped.

Quezon City police pursued the suspects, leading to their arrest. The evidence recovered from the suspects included 5 lead pipes, a baseball bat, 3 12 gauge shotgun live ammunition, a black bonnet, two screw drivers, and a tissue with blood stains.

Inquest proceedings

The suspects underwent inquest proceedings on Friday, June 19, a day after the incidents.

The suspects in police custody are the following:

A manual of the Department of Justice defines inquest as "an informal and summary investigation conducted by a public prosecutor in criminal cases involving persons arrested and detained without the benefit of a warrant of arrest issued by the court." An inquest aims to determine whether these persons "should remain under custody and correspondingly be charged in court."

 The 10 suspects face frustrated murder, physical injury, and malicious mischief charges.

'No place for cowards in UP'

UP had strongly condemned the fraternity-related attacks on campus and vowed to hold those responsible accountable. In a statement on Friday, UP chancellor Dr Michael Tan said: "We will impose the full penalty for those found guilty, and this is expulsion. There is no place for cowards in UP." 

Tan had described Vitangcol as “bugbog-sarado (beaten to a pulp)" when he saw him on Thursday.

“He was clearly in a daze and could not speak. Only the term ‘savage’ can be used to describe what the assailants did to this student, who only happened to be on campus to get his grade,” Tan said.

“The UP Diliman administration condemns these brutal attacks. The use of getaway vehicles shows these attacks were premeditated,” Tan said. – Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com