THE ALLEGED incumbent president of the Civil Law-based fraternity Aegis Juris was cited in contempt and ordered to be detained at the Pasay City Jail on Oct. 18.
Aegis Juris “president” Arvin Balag refused to answer a question from Sen. Grace Poe, who asked if he was the Grand Praefectus of the fraternity involved in the hazing and death of UST Civil Law freshman and Political Science alumnus Horacio Castillo III.
“For the position you’re holding in the frat, you’re invoking your right?” Poe said during the Senate hearing.
Poe cited school records indicating Balag as fraternity president.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairperson of the Senate public order committee, threatened Balag with detention if he continues to decline Poe’s question. “A very simple question of your position and you’re invoking your right against self-incrimination? Come on.”
Poe moved to cite Balag in contempt while Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri seconded the motion.
“Nakakaawa rin e, no? Mga bata pa ito e.” Poe said. “Pero bata pa lang ganyan na mag-isip. Kung hindi natin ‘yan ilalagay sa tama ngayon pa lang, e lalo na siguro pag tumanda na ‘yan.”
Lacson ordered Balag to be detained after the hearing.
On Sept. 17, Castillo was declared dead on arrival at the Chinese General Hospital. The victim attended the “welcoming rites” of Aegis Juris a day before.
Balag was among the 16 Aegis Juris members who were placed under an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order by the Department of Justice and were charged with murder, robbery, and violation of anti-hazing law.
Civil Law dean asked to step down
Poe advised UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina to step down from his position for a few months due to conflict of interest. “You’re a member of this frat, and you’re also the dean of UST [Faculty of Civil Law]. So in that case, I really think that it’s already somehow affecting how your actions are.”
Divina said he has not given special treatment to Aegis Juris Fraternity members, adding that he has even suspended four of its heads during his time.
“I have been a dean to all students regardless of affiliation. I did not play favorites. I have maintained my neutrality,” Divina said.
Poe replied that he can prove his statement by withdrawing from his position, but added that he does not need to stop lecturing.
“This is also goodwill on your part because you may not have any direct hand, but again, you’re a large figure,” Poe said. “You’re looming behind all these investigations and even in the lives of the students.”
Zubiri slammed Divina for allegedly having had no urgency in informing Atio’s parents about the Castillo’s death.
“You could have done more,” the senator said. “I feel that that day, you should have done more to be able to reach out to the family and be the one to inform them, not through an anonymous text.”
Divina claimed that he did not have Atio’s full name or address.
In a previous Senate hearing, Divina said he learned of the hazing at 12:15 p.m. the day after the incident and was informed of the victim’s surname only six hours later.
“For almost 24 hours, the poor parents of Atio Castillo [were] going from morgue to morgue, hospital to hospital, looking for a body of their child. Kung anak mo ‘yan, dean, nangyari sa’yo. Put yourself in their (Castillo’s parents) shoes,” Zubiri said.
The dean later claimed that he spoke to the Castillo family on the following day and agreed to have his phone investigated. F