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Atio case: UST law dean, Aegis members facing disbarment for coverup try

Aegis Juris fraternity Arvin Balag leaves the session hall after the Senate hearing on hazing incident case. EDWIN BACASMAS

At least 19 lawyers and all other members of Aegis Juris fraternity involved in an alleged attempt to cover up the fatal hazing of University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III last year could face disciplinary actions or disbarment proceedings.

In a 33-page report dated January 23, 2018, the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs, and justice and human rights recommended, among others, the “immediate institution of proper disciplinary or disbarment proceedings” against the lawyers and fraternity members “to be determined to have had knowledge of the death of Castillo and failed to report the same to the authorities.”

Among the 19 names mentioned in the report was University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law Dean

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The 18 other lawyers are the following:

-Atty. Marvi Abo

-Atty. Alston Kevin Anarna

-Atty. Edzel Bert Canlas

-Atty. Cecillo Jimeno

-Atty. Ferdinand Rogelio

-Atty. Eric Fuentes

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-Atty. Cesar Ocampo Ona

-Atty. Gaile Dante Acuzar Caraan

-Atty. Henry Pablo Jr.

-Atty. Jet Dela Pena Villaroman

-Atty. Cesar Dela Fuente

-Atty. Nino Kjell Servañez

-Atty. Manuel Angelo Ventura III

-Atty. Michael Vito

-Atty. Arthur Capili

-Atty. Irvin Joseph Fabella

-Atty. Edwin Uy

-Atty. Allan Christpher Agati

In making the recommendation, the report noted the statements made by Atty. Ma. Cristina Layusa of the Supreme Court’s Office of the Bar Confidant.

“Notwithstanding the public interest invested in ensuring that justice is served for the death of Horacio Tomas Castillo III, there appears to be no initiative on the part of the Court to proceed against the lawyers involved in their attempt to cover up the crime committed by their fraternity brothers,” it said.

“Although the Court has the power to motu propio institute proceedings for disbarment, suspension or discipline of attorneys, Atty. Layusa insisted that the issue be referred first to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,” the report added.

While recognizing the many disbarment cases pending before the SC, the Senate panels requested that the case be given “preference and be dealt with as soon as possible considering that another life was lost because of the barbaric practices of the fraternity.”

“The actions taken by these members constitute grossly immoral conduct that is shocking, against the decency expected from lawyers and a mockery of the legal profession,” the report said.

“In order to set as example, so as to deter further incidents of hazing, it is paramount that these individuals be dealt with, and possibly deprived of the privilege to practice law, urgently,” it added.

The report was signed by 14 senators including Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon, chairmen of the games and justice committees, respectively.

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