Category: violence

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.


G.U. Stuart, MD

Time was when the illicit drug use in the Philippines was mainly an indulgence of the fringe literati, the burgis, the artists and entertainment circle, far removed from the masa and rural culture with its isolated social pockets of marijuana users. None of the hard drugs and the intravenous drug users; none of varied countercultural movements that was requisite or fuel to the growth of the drug culture. It seemed almost possible that while the drug problem raged in most developed countries, the Philippines would be saved from the scourge of illicit drugs. But, alas, slowly and surely, the illicit drug market has successfully gained inroads into subcultures of users, into collegiate life, and deep into the bowels of Philippine rural life, burgeoning into a raging epidemic of drug addiction.

Today, “Shabu” poses a problem as serious, as frightening, as formidable, as any present day issue confronting the Filipino society. How can a country and a system mired in corruption fare against the commerce of drug trade so empowered by its bottomless coffers and consequent political clout? Many powerful nations have succumbed; the fanfares of their drug wars muffled, their policies inevitably compromised, shifting from prevention into containment.

Sadly, I think the Filipino society confronts an impossible task. The problem is past prevention. Is containment still possible?

crowd dispersal to death #kidapawan

Ed Lingao

I’ve covered enough violent dispersals to know that those who get hurt are often from both sides. BUT there is no such thing as equality in the frontlines. Policemen, and my friends in the PNP have to bear with me here, bear a far greater responsibility both for keeping the peace and for exercising restraint.

They are, after all, the state-sanctioned instruments of controlled violence who have the right and responsibility to bear instruments of death and use them when necessary. Secondly, they represent the state, and by extension, they represent you and me. They bear arms in my name. What this means is that, no matter how pissed off they are, or how rowdy the crowd is, they have no right to use their arms just because they are ticked off. As in any police force, they have the right to bear arms, and they have the responsibility to use them properly and according to law. Having said that, the Kidapawan incident is clearly a case of lessons unlearned after all the bloody demonstrations we’ve had post Marcos. The PNP’s own rulebook is clear, The latest iteration of the PNP operating manual on police operations involving demonstrations, issued in 2013, is pretty instructive. Rule 6.3 says that policemen are prohibited from firing warning shots. Rule 25.6 prohibits the carrying of firearms by policemen within 100 meters from the demonstration. Non-lethal weapons and equipment may be used to suppress violence, the manual says. Force is only used in cases of self-defense, and the force has to be justified and calibrated, and only for particular and specific cases. Hindi yung, nagkagulo na, magpaputok na tayo! Paalisin sila, paputukan na natin! Or, mga militante lang naman yan, hindi mga magsasaka. Ratratan na natin! If you listen to the recorded sounds of the dispersal, you would hear PAKPAKPAKPAKPAKPAKPAKPAKPAK … parang may encounter na, and not a dispersal. In other words, one does not use firearms in crowd dispersal, regardless of the political affiliations of the crowd. One does not need to be a lawyer or a genius to figure that out. Strangely, the provincial commander, Col. Alex Tagum, argues that his men had to use their guns “to draw out” the demonstrators, whatever that means. If he meant they fired guns to disperse the crowd, that is illegal and illogical. Do you shoot at a crowd to disperse it, really? How can that ever make any sense? And his other argument, captured on television, was that his men were shooting at the ground, which explains daw why you could see puffs of dust where the bullets strike the ground. Anyone who handles firearms would know that if you fire a gun at the ground at a shallow angle, the bullet ricochets or is deflected back upwards.Some combat troops use the technique of skipping bullets off the ground or walls in urban combat. That was one lesson US troops learned in Mogadishu. Is it any wonder that some people were hit, including one bystander who was killed with a bullet to his side? What it boils down to is this… Ang crowd dispersal ay hindi parang rambol ng mga frat, na, uy teka, nalamangan tayo, o, teka, pagkakataon na ito makabawi. Kung gusto ninyo ang kapangyarihan ng armas, akuin din ninyo ang responsibilidad.

vhong vhindicated?

on social media some peeps are saying that too much time is being wasted on the vhong navarro story when there are so many other things going on that are more important to nation.  katrina posted this status in response:

no, no. there is nothing stupid, or shallow, or wrong about discussing what truly happened to Vhong Navarro. this is a guy that a mass audience has been watching on TV from Monday to Saturday since 2009. he is someone whose becoming has happened on nationwide television, kicking it off with the Streetboys, and later on doing comedy like none of those other boys could. he has a hit song to his name, hit movies, too. kids watch this guy on TV every day and know of his icon to be about comedy, and wit, and dancing, and fun.

that he has come out looking the way he does is no joke. that the story is about concepts that are the total opposite of his public persona, that it is about rape, extortion, violence, revenge, blackmail, make it an even more important topic for discussion. because the mass audience that watches him on TV every day deserves a discussion about the image of this man they idolize, coming out on TV all black and blue and broken.

there is nothing stupid about this. neither is there reason to think this shallow and superficial. this might seem less important than politics and corruption and the economy (or whatever else), but it is important on the level of culture — and i don’t mean just Vhong as celebrity — but culture as ideology, as the way we engage with the world, and the way things unravel, publicly and otherwise.

this is not any more or any less important than other national issues at this point in time. it is equally important because it is about nation, and it is a discussion that we MUST have because this speaks of and about us. ignoring it would also mean missing the opportunity to engage in a discussion about violence and rape, regardless of whether the latter happened or not.

and really, more important things to discuss? whatever happened to multitasking?

my reaction, when i first saw vhong’s black-eyed and puffed-up face on tv, was consternation: such violence! the guys who beat him up must have been so angry, what’s the backstory?  and then, again, maybe the guys were just high on some speedy drugs, and so, wala lang, trip lang?

now we have two quite different versions, one denying, the other alleging, a rape attempt.  one alleging, the other denying, below-the-waist kababuyan.  the strange thing is, the girl isn’t hiding her face, like the usual rape/attempt victim does, and she has a well-known businessman-cum-personal-body-guard (who admits beating up vhong) doing all the talking for her.  very weird.

meanwhile, i hear the nbi finds merit in vhong’s case.  i’m just glad that there was no knee-jerk response from women’s groups that are usually quick to scream rape! in support of alleged rape/attempt victims.  good job, girls.