aquila legis & aegis juris, birds of the same feather?

when ralph trangia flew away two days after he was tagged as one of the culprits behind atio castillo’s hazing death, it was taken as a sign of guilt.  but then he returned 20 days later — a sign, his legal counsel said, of innocence and willingness to face and disprove the charges against him.  hmm, di ba.  if he were innocent, why the flight?

baka mas malamang na US authorities would have found and deported him back to manila anyway?  or some brods, maybe Big Bro himself, (kung sino man iyon) asked him to come back for the “good” of the frat, maybe promised that he would not spend a day in jail, maybe even citing the aquila legis – lenny villa case?  read Fratmen in Lenny Villa hazing get slap on wrist by philstar‘s edu punay and romina cabrera.

In November 1993, Caloocan City regional trial court Judge Adoracion Angeles convicted 26 [Aquila Legis] fraternity members of homicide. But the Court of Appeals (CA) later acquitted 19 suspects, a decision affirmed by the Supreme Court (SC).

The CA affirmed the convictions of Fidelito Dizon and Artemio Villareal for homicide. When the case was appealed to the SC, the high tribunal in 2012 set aside the findings of the CA.

The SC found Dizon and four other fraternity members guilty of the lesser offense of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Villareal died in 2011. Others convicted by the lower court were freed.

Dizon and four others were sentenced to four months and one day as minimum and four years and two months as maximum. But in 2014, the SC issued a final decision that the five fraternity members convicted of reckless imprudence were “eligible for probation.”

After 26 years, members of Aquila Legis tagged in the Villa case and were acquitted have since moved on, many of them occupying positions in government.

They were able to finish law school, became lawyers, and are now pursuing careers both in private practice and civil service. Most of them were accepted to the Bar after being cleared by the CA in 2002.

One of the 19 Aquila Legis members convicted by the Caloocan City regional trial court in 1993 but cleared by the CA and the SC in 2012 is now a magistrate in the Sandiganbayan: Associate Justice Michael Musngi.

Musngi is also a former undersecretary for special concerns at the Office of the President during the second Aquino administration.

Another acquitted frat member was Jaime Ma. Flores III, who was appointed chair of Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations under the Duterte administration. He resigned from his post in October 2016.

Flores brought with him another accused in the Villa case, Santiago Ranada III as his head executive assistant in the agency.

Another Aquila member in the Villa case, Adel Abas was also appointed in the Duterte administration as member of the ceasefire committee of the government’s peace panel for the peace talks with Moro rebels.

Another frat brother, Nelson Victorino served as assistant secretary of the Department of National Defense during the Arroyo administration and later became chief of staff of Sen. Grace Poe.

Eulogio Amado Sabban, on the other hand, now serves as director of Office of the President – Legislative Office.

Joseph Rhoderick Lledo is senior vice president of BDO Unibank Inc., while Zosimo Mendoza is director of Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc.

Many of them also pursue private law practice: Vicente Verdadero, who served as lawyer for retired general and now MMDA chair Danilo Lim; Percival Brigola, lawyer for Philippine Olympic Committee and complainants in One Dream investment scam; Jonas-Karl Perez of the Picazo Buyco Tan Fider and Santos law offices in Makati; Dalmacio Lim Jr., a contributor in senatorial campaign of former senator Ernesto Maceda in 2013 polls, and law professor Jude Fernandez.

Other acquitted Aquila Legis members are: Amante Purisima III, nephew of retired Supreme Court justice Fidel Purisima who remains active in the frat and served as speaker and facilitator in their international convention in Las Vegas in October 2016; Etienne Guerrero, son of former Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Jesus Guerrero; and Ronan de Guzman, Paul Angelo Santos, Antonio General and Ernesto Jose Montecillo.

Of the five convicted of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, two became chiefs-of-staff of prominent politicians—Renato Bantug Jr. to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Antonio Mariano Almeda to former presidential son Juan Miguel Arroyo, former representative of Ang Galing Pinoy party-list.

Junel Anthony Ama pursued a career in private law practice.

… [Judge] Angeles, on the other hand, underwent career ordeals that her supporters believe were linked to her decision to convict 26 members of the Aquila Legis fraternity.

Angeles faced administrative cases, charges of child abuse, and maltreatment of her ward and house help, which were all later dismissed by the higher courts. But her promotion was derailed.

Now 77 and retired, Angeles does accuse the fraternity of involvement in her woes, saying she has no regrets even after “facing charges left and right.”

it would seem that indeed no one spent a night in jail (correct me if i’m wrong).  but the lenny villa case as template for how-to-get-away-with-killing-atio?  the cases are only similar in that lenny and atio both died from hazing and that both aquila legis and aegis juris are lawyer frats.  and it is likely that aegis juris lawyers will try similar tactics as did the aquila legis.  read the final decision of feb 2012 penned by associate justice lourdes sereno.

one huge difference, however, is that in lenny villa’s case, there was no attempt to cover up the hazing that led to lenny’s death.  in atio castillo’s case there was clearly an attempt to cover it up.  after medtech bro john paul solano advised that atio be brought to a hospital asap, the frat’s grand praefectus arvin balag ordered solano to take atio to the chinese general hospital (not to nearby UST hospital) and to say that he, solano, stumbled on the body in a street sa balut, tondo.  at kung wala pang CCTV ang world, they might even have gotten away with it.

and then, again, maybe not.  atio’s parents, horacio jr. and carminia, and the manila police would have been unstoppable.  having found the body, they would have tracked down the frat and the frat lib where the hazing took place, and brought charges against the whole frat and their elders for sure.

it was the frat’s bad luck that the police were quick to check out balut tondo and to find CCTVs showing no body being dumped there or found.  worse, there were more CCTVs reported that show solano on a motorcycle following a black fortuner and the red pick-up carrying atio on the way to chinese gen.

and now  there’s bro marc anthony ventura turning state witness, good of him, admitting his part in the hazing, telling how atio died, and naming names.  and what about that facebook chat of the fratboys in a panic and invoking the code of silence.

of course the denials and objections have started.  two frat members named by ventura say they weren’t there.  solano and balag insist that atio died of a heart condition, not because of hazing, what hazing?

and that facebook thread?  there’s no authenticating that daw, and making it public violates daw the cybercrime law, data privacy act, and electronic evidence law.  wala rin daw court order to retrieve the chat thread.  and the search warrant for the frat lib kung saan naganap ang hazing?  defective daw, so di puwedeng gamiting ebidensiya ang mga natuklasan doon ng mga imbestigador.  at kung ano-ano pa.

at least the aquila legis guys were man enough to own up to hazing rites unintentionally gone deadly, disputing only allegations of conspiracy, malice, and the like, and resorting to all kinds of delaying tactics and gimmicks to lighten the penalties.  in contrast, these aegis juris guys are refusing to own up.  the strategy apparently is to deny, deny, deny to death, which makes me wonder if there are aegis juris elders in powerful places that make these arrogant kids think they’re going to get away with murder.

murder nga ba?  they’ll say it wasn’t premeditated, it was just hazing, not meant to kill, just a test of endurance and machismo.  nandoon na ako.  but smart kids that they are, they must have known that severe beating can kill, and they should have known to stop sooner.  but then, sabi nga ni antonio contreras:

When I was receiving the paddles, and being slapped and physically assaulted, all I was thinking was that at the end of the night, I would be blindfolded holding a lit candle in my hand, as the final rituals were done, and I would open my eyes to a new family, one that would shelter me in that unfamiliar land and make it my familiar second home, my alma mater.  But there is another facet to this otherwise promising imagery of family.

When I was already the giver of the pain, as a full member now initiating applicant neophytes after me, it was easy to descend into the abyss of inhumanity, and allow the demons that I did not know existed to take hold of me. Holding the paddle was like holding a gun. The rush of being in control, the high of being in command, one that I am sure every master would experience, are living testaments that even as we are humans, we are still technically from the animal species.

napagkaisahan si atio

the worst part of the aegis juris hazing:  atio was the lone neophyte.  (lenny was one of seven.)  atio was one punching bag for more than 10, maybe more than 20? fratmen.  imagine, all that drunken adrenalin let loose on a single target over a period of four hours !!!  napuruhan talaga si atio.  the question is, SOP ba iyon?  pa-isa-isang neophyte lang?  or was atio the exception?  but WHY.


  1. and if atio collapsed, unconscious, at around 5 a.m., why did they just sit around waiting for solano instead of taking atio to the hospital themselves at once? baka magising pa? not one of them dared do the right thing? who was calling the shots? the praefectus?

  2. ricelander

    The human need to belong— the primary and strongest motivation.

    Where I went for college, almost all were in frats and sororities. So, either you join one or you are left by your own lonesome. Three frats tried to recruit me. I said “no”. I said to myself, why in heaven’s name should I let anyone enslave me for weeks then maul me to near death, before being accepted as his brod. Utterly absurd, I thought. So I was by my own lonesome inside the campus all throughout college. It helped a lot that I was a loner by nature. Even so, it was quite difficult because even lone wolves need friends. There were times when you feel like an utter outcast. Even with friends, they could afford you only a few moments of chat or a wave of hand because they would go rushing to their tambayan. It took a very long time to adjust. Eventually I found friends and barkadas outside of campus.

    • i was never invited to join a sorority, haha, i guess i wasn’t sorority material. my first year in u.p. diliman i was happy enough with the block system and later started hanging around with one group na sa parking lot ang tambayan. when i outgrew that i found myself part of the psych society that i had not even applied for and it was good enough. hindi naman kasi ako joiner talaga.