Press Release
September 20, 2017

Privilege Speech of Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri
On the Death of Horacio "Atio" Castillo III due to Hazing

September 20, 2017

Mr. President, I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege. I filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 504, which condemns in the strongest sense the death of UST freshman law student Horacio "Atio" Castillo III due to hazing and calls for a Senate investigation in aid of legislation. I thought that the resolution I filed will be enough to assuage my sense of duty as a legislator to investigate this gruesome death. But when I visited the wake of Atio last night and talked to his bereaved family, particularly to his father, Horacio Jr. or Totias we call him, who was my grade school and high school classmate in Colegio San Agustin, it behooves me as a father, as a parent to make a privilege speech on the matter by condemning this brutal act and bring to the public consciousness the gravity of this evil called "hazing." I cannot turn my back to the plea of a grieving parent, as I believe no parent deserves to lose a child, much more due to hazing.

Most of us here are parents with loving children and I could not imagine the pain of losing a son or a daughter because of violence, because of hazing. I would feel that that would be the most tragic event to happen to me or to any family, God forbid. And I, we, do not wish that to happen to any parent, to any family.

Mr. President, dear colleagues, with us today, and probably you might have seen her during the committee hearings the past weeks as she has been an intern in my office for several weeks now, is Nicole Castillo, the only sister of Atio. She came here and left her brother's side when she learned that I will deliver a privilege speech on the death of her beloved Atio. And we would like to extend our deepest condolences to Nicole and her family.

Atio, only son of Totiand Camille, was a loving and dutiful son and brother to Nicole. He was a student leader in UST during his undergraduate studies. He was a fan of the Senate and repeatedly told his father that he wanted to be a senator one day. Now, that would never come. We join the family in their cry for justice for Atio! Let justice be served in this case.

I will briefly cite the circumstances leading to the death of Atio. On Saturday, Sept. 16, Atio informed his parents that he will attend the welcoming ceremony of the Aegis Juris fraternity in UST and will be home by Sunday morning.Come Sunday morning, initial reports stated that Atio'sbody was discovered by a "good Samaritan," John Paul Solano on September 17 at about 7:30am in the sidewalk at the corner of Honorio Lopez Boulevard and Infanta St. in Balut, Tondo, Manila. As claimed by John Paul Solano, after buying a cigarette from a nearby store, he found the body of Atio in the sidewalk, flagged down a passing pick-up and together with some bystanders, took Atio to the Chinese General Hospital. The doctors at the hospital declared Atio dead on arrival.

The officials of Barangay 133 in Manila, however, dispute the accounts of John Paul Solano. They said that there was no such incident that happened in the area after reviewing the CCTV footage at the time the body was supposedly found. Thus, Mr. Solano became a "person of interest" and police later learned that Mr. Solano is also a freshman law student at the UST and some reports claim that he is also a member of Aegis Juris fraternity. That is so much for co-incidences, Mr. President. It will be a breakthrough in the investigation if Mr. Solano will tell all he knows about the incident.

Mr. President, the action of Dean Nilo Divina of the UST Faculty of Civil Law in suspending the members of the Aegis Juris members and preventing them from attending classes or entering the school premises is highly suspicious. It will give the investigators a hard time in locating and finding the Aegis Juris members and ask them about the case. This was echoed by the Manila Police District officers in their press briefing this morning. Thus, I challenge Dean Divina and other faculty members of the UST Faculty of Civil Law who are also members of the Aegis Juris to cooperate in the investigation and to tell all that they know about the incident.

I have also received reports that the members of the Aegis Juris fraternity were told to leave the country or probably some may have already left the country, thus I call on our authorities to place them under watch list or on hold departure order by the Bureau of Immigration.

Mr. President, no one, I repeat no one, deserves to die from hazing, from a brutal and senseless death. We have a law, Republic Act No. 8049 or An Act Regulating Hazing and Other Forms of Initiation Rites in Fraternities, Sororities, and Other Organizations and Providing Penalties Therefor. Unfortunately, since its enactment into law in 1995, with dozens of reported deaths due to hazing, only one conviction was decided by the court. Only one!! Other accounts place that there could be more than a hundred deaths due to hazing but the rest are not reported or did not reach the courts. So much senseless deaths, my dearest colleagues, so much wasted youth, the bright future of these students suddenly gone, as was the case of Atio Castillo.

We nurture our children from the cradle, teach them how to take their first steps as a child, tutor them with their difficult subjects. We teach them even with the difficult topics such as the birds and the bees or how to treat their dates with respect. In other words, we do everything for them to become a perfect human being. Then in one instance all that we have done......our bundle of joy, is taken away from us. Tortured and killed by the same people who your child considers as his brothers and protectors.

Mr. President, I cringe at the thought that the current law, RA 8049 has become just a law in paper, ineffective if not inutile in regulating and preventing deaths from hazing. I feel ashamed that all these years, while our youth are dying, we have not done enough.

Clearly, regulating hazing as specified in the current law, is a failure. What could be the reasons Mr. President? One, regulating it, as specified in Sections 2 and 3 of RA 8049 to report to school authorities the initiation rites and that the school will assign at least two representatives during the initiation or hazing is not being followed. No fraternity will allow an intruder or non-member to witness their initiation rites and learn of their initiation. Thus, most of these initiation rites are not reported to the school authorities.

Second, when a crime such as this happens, the problem is exacerbated by the protection of the killers by the fellow fraternity members or "brods" in the police, in the prosecutors office or in the courts or their sympathizers as a result of fraternity culture.

That is why we filed a bill repealing the Anti-Hazing law, under Senate Bill No. 1591. Also Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian filed a bill. What differentiates the bill from the current law is that hazing is banned or prohibited under the bill while the current law merely regulates it. As a result of the banning of hazing, the bill now penalizes mere participation in hazing while the current law only penalizes the participants if the hazing results to injury or death. Also, under the bill if hazing leads to death, sodomy, rape or mutilation the penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of P3 million are imposed. Hence, we should pass a new and real Anti-hazing law.

When will these barbaric acts of so called brotherhoods stop? You are supposed to welcome them and protect them as family and not hurt them and kill them. No wonder the culture of violence never ends in our country as those who swear an oath to defend our laws are the same ones who commit the violence. This must stop now!! No parent should bury their children from such senseless deaths.....deaths from violence and crime.

It is about time that we prohibit hazing. We need to pass a new law that will not only regulate hazing but prevent it outright. Brotherhood or sisterhood should not be realized at the expense of the lives and future of our youth. We should stop these senseless deaths of our youth.

Thank you Mr. President.

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