crimes in the Philippines

Another person tagged in John Matthew Salilig’s death surrenders – DOJ

Jairo Bolledo

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Another person tagged in John Matthew Salilig’s death surrenders – DOJ

VICTIM. Students and teachers of Adamson University wear black shirts as they offer Mass for John Matthew Salilig, a student who died from hazing during a fraternity initiation, on March 1, 2023.


Seven of the 15 persons of the interest in the case are already under the police's custody, DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano says

MANILA, Philippines – Another person tagged in the death of Adamson University student John Matthew Salilig has surrendered to the authorities, Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said on Friday, March 3.

Clavano told reporters that an unnamed person from the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity gave up and is now under the Philippine National Police’s custody. The DOJ spokesperson added the latest surrenderee is the seventh member of the fraternity under the authorities’ custody.

“He will also go through the same inquest proceeding which is afforded to the previous six respondents and that will take place either today or tomorrow. We will see if he will also avail of the waiver of the Article 125 just like the other six respondents,” Clavano told reporters.

Over a week after Salilig was reported missing, his body was discovered by authorities in a vacant lot at the back of a subdivision in Imus, Cavite. A witness said the 24-year-old chemical engineering student was beaten at least 70 times during the fraternity initiation rites.

Based on the autopsy report, Salilig died to severe blunt force trauma that he could have sustained during the initiation rites, according to Imus police case investigator Staff Sergeant Jessie Villanueva. On Thursday, Salilig’s brother, John Michael, filed a hazing complaint against six people tagged in the case.

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Clavano added since those who surrendered waived their right under the article 125 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), they would remain in police custody as long as the preliminary investigation into the case is ongoing. Article 125 of RPC provides protection in the “delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities.”

Person of interest found dead

In an interview with reporters on Friday published by News5, Lieutenant Colonel Virgilio Jopia, acting chief of Biñan City police, said one of the person of interest had died.

Upon our follow up investigation, si alias Sakmal, which is kasama siya. Ito ay alumni na ito, hindi na ‘to enrolled. Kasama siya, siya ‘yong nag-drive nito, ng sasakyan na ito. Unfortunately, hindi na natin siya naabutan na buhay dahil noong nakaraang February 28, ito pala ay nag-suicide,” Jopia said, adding they went to Taguig City after receiving an information in connection to the said person of interest.

(Upon our follow up investigation, we’ve found out that alias Sakmal, an alumnus, has been tagged in the case. He drove the vehicle which brought some of the fraternity members tagged in the case. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us after he took his own life on February 28.)

According to Jopia, alias Sakmal’s family owns the Mitsubishi Adventure, which he drove. A witness identified the vehicle as among the cars used by the fraternity members. Jopia added that there are 18 persons of interest in the case in total – seven of which are currently under police custody, one had died, while the remaining 10 are currently at-large.


On Friday, Clavano also confirmed that the obstruction of justice complaint filed against Gregorio Cruz, father of one of the persons of interest, have been junked by the DOJ prosecutors “for lack of probable cause with reasonable certainty of conviction.”

“It did not reach the level of probable cause with reasonable certainy of conviction. He will be released immediately. This is the latest that I got from the panel of prosecutors,” the DOJ spokesperson added.

Cruz’s case is among the first ones to test the DOJ’s latest memorandum, which ordered the prosecutors to immediately withdraw complaints or cases where there is no “reasonable certainty of conviction.” The Department Circular No. 008 is part of the justice sector’s plan to unclog and decongest court dockets. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.