Category: crime

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.

level up, frats!

been bloggging for 10 years this september and, of course, i’ve blogged about hazing and frats before, twice referring to dr. godofredo stuart jr’s updated online essay Hazing in the Philippines, and doing it again, zeroing in this time (after last night’s senate hearing on horacio castillo III’s hazing death) on why fraternities need not be banned, and / but why RA 8049 doesn’t work, and how macho frats could level up the hazing from violent pits to noble heights.

FRATERNITIES NEED NOT BE BANNED

Every time a death occurs, part of the hue-and-cry is to ban, dissolve, or prohibit fraternities, and the question inevitably raised: Do fraternities have a place in society?

Outlawing fraternities will do nothing but drive them underground. Besides, fraternities provide for various human needs — a surrogate family, a place for young men and women to forge friendships, bonding, and trust, a milieu of kindred spirits, a place to experience community. It is the hazing that is the unnecessary ritual, and the deaths from it so senseless.

Hazing wasn’t part of the Greek and medieval origins of fraternities. Hazing took roots in that period of change when the ancient rituals and classic traditions of intellectual explorations and expressions were disappearing. Now, what remains in some (most?) fraternities are the Greek letters, symbols and crests, hedonistic extracurricular pursuits, and its annual ritual of hazing.

Hazing is the fraternity’s murderous thorn on its side. Many organizations, schools and universities have banned it, but to no avail. The deaths continue. In 1995, the anti-hazing law, Republic Act No. 8049, was approved by President F. Ramos. The law is impressively replete with definitions, liabilities and penalties — reclusion perpetua, reclusion temporal, prison mayor, prison correcional. Yet, it has woefully failed to stop the beatings and deaths. And in the theater of the courts, the guilty have always managed to skillfully mitigate culpability through avenues of twisted legalese, loopholes, and appeals.

It’s a law that lacks teeth, rife with flaws. It allows hazing or initiation rites with ridiculous conditions that seem to not recognize the potential for violence: That prior notice is given seven (7) days before, that it must not exceed three (3) days, that no physical violence be employed, that two school or fraternity representatives be present.

And alcohol? It is ubiquitous in our celebratory gatherings. Certainly so, in initiation rituals. It shouldn’t take much to imagine how much of the violence is fueled by alcohol. And despite the fact that 82% of deaths from violent hazing involve alcohol, the law makes absolutely no reference to alcohol.

Hazing is a blood sport, a ritual of power and control wielded with violence. The street gangs, cults and the underworld may never be rid of it, but schools and universities should be saved from it. The youth should be protected from the psychological and physical violence. It is inane and insane to expect that promulgation by law can regulate, supervise, and temper the violence. Hazing in all its forms should be punished with expulsion. Deaths should be dealt with for the heinous crime that it is, by a law with teeth, unencumbered by legal loopholes and politics.

MANSLAUGHTER
Justice Secretary de Lima expressed puzzlement when Judge Perla Cabrera-Faller dismissed the charge for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law in the hazing death of San Beda law student Marc Andrei Marcos for “lack of probable cause and ample evidence.” Of course, nothing followed her puzzlement. Incredulously, the judge exculpated: “No one is to be blamed for the death of Andrei Marcos… The court feels that it could suffer the flak of society, but it cannot in conscience consign all of the accused to the dust bin of history simply on the basis of the uncorroborated and incredible lone statement of Marcelo.”

The history of hazing is littered with deaths. Despite the deaths and known risks, fraternities continue with with their conspiratorial regimens of torture. Despite having been criminalized by Republic Act 8049 more than a decade ago, the deaths continue. Despite “zero-tolerance” edicts and sound bites, when hazing season comes around, schools and universities turn a blind eye, waiting for the next death—when it becomes the occasion for the usual public outcry, condemnation and condolence.

Every hazing death clamors for justice. Hazing deaths qualify as manslaughter. At the least, involuntary manslaughter. But in the Andrei Marcos case, the judge found lack of probable cause and ample evidence! No one to be blamed!

Non-Violent Alternatives

Hazing can be replaced by non-violent alternatives that measure the mettle, worth, and resolve of the pledges. For the able-bodied pledges, have them walk to Baguio, planting trees along the way. Spend their weekends and a whole stretch of summer in volunteer work. Take to the boondocks, like the teachers who walk their arduous miles and wade through rivers daily to reach small communities of children hungry to learn how to read and write. Provide community service to the countless riles communities. Clean the garbage and refuse that clog up the tributaries of the Pasig river. There are limitless opportunities waiting to be invented for a fraternal Peace Corps of pledges. And instead of the twisted glamor of initiation violence, let the pledges prove their worth and mettle with a new kind of macho-ness, through deeds that boast of sacrifice, social relevance, and a dose of nobility.

Hazing in the Philippines

When death occurs, at the very least, it is manslaughter.
Dr. Godofredo U. Stuart, Jr.

September 18, 2017 . . . and yet, another death. Hazing claimed the life of UST a law student, Horatio Tomas Castillo III, as he sought the promises and possibilities of a future in the brotherhood of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.

It is a human condition — the need to belong to a family, group, tribe, club, organization, or community. Some seek the allure and exclusivity of some brotherhoods or sisterhoods — fraternities and sororities, street gangs, military units, secret societies — for that special sense of belonging, kinship, and bonding, and for the promise that membership in a special community of men or women will provide a lifelong cachet, to reap imagined privileges, reassurances, and advantages later on in life. In return, one accepts the ethos of a brotherhood, subservience to a set of ideals, and commitment to a code of silence.

For that fraternity, men and women are willing to suffer through the hazing rituals of physical and psychological abuse, sometimes a combination of extreme and heavy doses of both — being smeared with feces or urinated on, drinking concoctions of bodily discharges, suffering torrents of degrading insults, demeaning sexual acts and nudity, or various acts and varying degrees of physical violence. They are meant to humble the pledges, and from that humbling, they imagine, springs bonding, love, and trust.

The consequences of psychological abuse are often hidden. But sometimes, after the hazing, beneath the seeming normalcy, there is a lifetime of psychological scars or wounds that never heal.

Elements of Hazing
Power
Control
Testosterone
Sadism
Peer pressure
History of abuse
Alcohol
Wall of silence

Read on…

aguirre’s anti-drugs rhetoric

At the Senate hearing on Delos Santos’ death on Thursday, August 24, Aguirre asked human rights groups why they are not as vocal whenever drug addicts kill or rape victims, echoing his statements at a House budget hearing on Wednesday, August 23.

“Bakit ‘yung sa Bulacan, mayroong ni-rape na babae tapos may 3 minor, bakit ni isa walang dumalaw? Even one from human rights. [But] the (human rights) chairman went to the wake of Kian yesterday. So ‘yun po disproportionate; parang ‘di pantay. Anong diperensya ng pinatay na bata ng mga adik sa pinatay na bata ng mga pulis?” (What’s the difference between a child killed by an addict and a child killed by police?)

the justice secretary is being the president’s lawyer, of course, defending duterte’s drug war and the besieged police, muddying the waters without compunction, and distracting from the real issue at hand.  on social media, the ka-DDS (duterte diehard supporters) have picked it up, echoing and affirming aguirre’s question as the correct response to bleeding hearts crying for an end to the killings of kids such as kian.

isang taon na tayong stuck sa usaping ito.  read marvin bionat’s PH social media drowning in fallacies and incivility posted 31 aug 2016.  even then, nakakanerbiyos na ang takbo ng isip ng maraming pro-duterte.

… supporters of extrajudicial killings often post on social media their now ubiquitous question: “Where is the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) when innocent civilians are murdered, raped and robbed by drug addicts?” There is a straightforward answer to that question—that is, the CHR’s constitutional mandate is not fighting crime but fighting human rights abuses involving civil and political rights, so they have nothing to do with daily crimes and police work. It is like asking where the nurses and doctors are (not the fire department) to put out a raging fire. But the emotion-laden rhetorical question suits those who would rather not see the CHR meddle in the government’s war on drugs.  

read too fr. ranhillo aquino’s Fallacy as the new normal, posted 25 august 2017.  

When bishops decried Kian’s murder only recently, there almost immediately followed a flurry of regurgitated issues about clergy abuse of minors. There was also posed what, I can only presume, was meant to be rhetorical question: “Bakit hindi kayo nag-ingay nung may pinatay ag ginahasa ang mga adik?”  It is not the fallacies that alarm me, because they can occur even in the discourses of the learned—of course, at a very high, almost indiscernible, degree of subtlety.  But the fallacies on Facebook and other social media sites are blatant and arrant.  What makes me quake in my shoes though is that they are no longer recognized as fallacies and have in fact been accepted as the “rhetoric” of the age.  Fallacy is irrationality and to make it the mode of thinking is pathetic, tragic even.

…When a bishop cries out “This is murder” and you answer “Direct your priests first who molest children”, the fallacy should be clear.  The question is whether the deed is murder or not.  The molestation issue is quite another — which is not to say that it is not a legitimate issue.

AGUIRRE:  Anong diperensya ng pinatay na bata ng mga adik sa pinatay na bata ng mga pulis?

may tama si aguirre: walang pinag-iba ang batang pinatay ng adik sa batang pinatay ng pulis.  if we’re talking about the bata as victim, well, they’re both dead. if we’re talking about the killers, well, parepareho silang nawala sa sarili, yung adik under the inflluence of shabu, yung pulis under the influence of the president’s kill kill kill orders — i have your backs, say niya, and that must be so nakaka-high.

and, hey, they all deserve due process and rehab options, crazed addicts and trigger-happy cops alike.