By Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola
The Supreme Court (SC) has started disbarment proceedings against the lawyers who allegedly plotted to cover up the death of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III in a hazing session conducted by the Aegis Juris fraternity last year.
This was disclosed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri Tuesday afternoon, saying that the Senate has been informed that the SC en banc will start its investigation into the 21 lawyers who were alleged to have planned to help their younger fraternity brothers in evading prosecution in the death of the 22-year-old law freshman in an initiation rite.
The notice was sent through the office of Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs which conducted an investigation into Castillo’s death last year.
The SC en banc, in a resolution dated February 6, 2018, took consideration of the Senate committee’s panel report, recommending that the senior Aegis Juris members who were believed to be involved in the cover-up be subjected to disbarment proceedings.
The court said it resolved to treat the committee report as a complaint against the lawyers, which include University of Sto. Tomas Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina.
They were required to comment on the complaint within 10 days.
Zubiri, a close friedn to Castillo’s family, lauded the SC for its “swift action” against those involved.
“This is a great day for justice,” he said. “Because of the action of the Supreme Court, we can see that justice is slowly grinding and moving forward in the country.”
In one of the hearings on Castillo’s death, Manila Police District (MPD) director Chief Supt. Joel Coronel bared a Facebook chat conversation among senior members of the Aegis Juris discussing their next steps on the case.
Most of those who plotted the cover-up were lawyers. One of them was a staff in the Supreme Court’s Office of the Administrative Services, and another works for the Civil Service Commission.
They also met in a Quezon City hotel where CCTV cameras caught them.
Meanwhile, Divina, despite denying knowledge on the supposed cover-up, was found to have been informed of Castillo’s death, but failed to immediately inform authorities and the student’s parents.