MANILA, Philippines – As a lawyer and Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity member himself, Senator Francis Chiz Escudero expressed dismay over what he described as a clear cover-up attempt of the lawyers and law students of the University of Sto. Tomas in the death of hazing victim Oracio “Atio” Castillo III.
The senator said the Aegis Juris Fraternity members are tainting the image of lawyers in the country.
Escudero explained that the online chat messages among members of the Aegis Juris Frantenity can be used as basis to disbar the lawyers and soon-to-be-lawyers.
“Sa katunayan ang paglabag sa Anti – Hazing law, ang pag- commit ng murder at pagiging accessory sa murder, ito’y nagco-constitute ng moral turpitude at maaaring maging basehan para itong mga estudyante ng law ay hindi pinayagan mag-bar. Pumasa man sila at hindi pwede mag- abogado at ground din ‘yan ng disbarment ng sinomang incumbent naaboagdo,” Escudero said.
(The violation of the Anti – Hazing Law, the commission of murder and being an accessory to murder, these constitute moral turpitude and can be used as basis so these law students would not be allowed to take bar exams. And even if they pass, they cannot become lawyers, and it can be a ground for the disbarment of any incumbent lawyer.)
According to Atty. Christina Layusa of the office of the Bar Confidante of the Supreme Court, law students facing charges cannot take their oaths although they are allowed to take bar exams.
“The policy of the court is to let them take the bar exam but once they pass, we will hold their oath taking. It might even take 10 years or 15 years but the court will not allow them to take their oath unless the cases against them has been dismissed,” Layusa said.
In the event the cases filed against them are dismissed, they still have to submit a petition to the court and documents proving they are of “good moral –fibre” or in the right condition to convince the court that they can practice law.
The Senator, meanwhile, proposed the total ban on corporeal initiation rights or hazing by fraternities.
“To simply prohibit hazing siguro isang malaking amendment sa batas ito. . . . initiation rights na walang kinalaman sa pagsakit o pagdampi ng maski isang daliri sa katawan ng sinomang neophyte,” Escudero said.
(To simply prohibit hazing, I think is a huge amendment on the law…initiation rites that has nothing to do with causing pain or laying even one finger on the body of any neophyte.)
Escudero also stood firm that the University of Santo Tomas has liability for the death of Atio especially since those involved are students of the UST Civil Law College.
During Wednesday’s Senate hearing, UST Alumni and Senator Joel Villanueva expressed dismay after seeing that the profile of the Aegis Jusris Fraternity is still at the website of the UST Civil Law Department amid the involvement of the fraternity’s members to the crime.
“Nandoon pa rin po iyong Aegis Juris Fraternity nakalagay po doon and again Mr. Chairman parang promotion pa rin ito at hindi ko alam kung aware pa rin po ang ating dean. Dean Divina, last hearing I mentioned this,” Sen. Joel Villanueva said.
(The profile of the Aegis Juris Fraternity is still there. Mr. Chairman, it still seems like a promotion and I am not sure if the dean is aware. Dean Divina, last hearing I mentioned this.) – Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue