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UST law dean says Atio case being exploited for selfish agenda

Nilo Divina says grave injustice” has been committed with Atio case.

University of Santo Tomas Dean of the Faculty of Civil Law Nilo Divina on Monday said a “grave injustice” has been committed with the death of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III but it should not be used for the persecution of innocent people.

Divina, a founding member of the Aegis Juris Fraternity, is one of the respondents in Atio’s case. He is facing a complaint for murder and violations of the Anti-hazing Law and Obstruction of Justice under Presidential Decree 1829.

In his 30-page counter-affidavit, Divina sought the dismissal of the complaint filed against him.

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“Indeed, while the full force of the law should be used to bring justice those responsible for the death of Atio, we should also not allow his memory to be tainted with the persecution of innocent people in his name,” he said.

“For it is also a grave injustice to lay the blame on conjectures and twisted logic,” Divina said.

He said he was only included in the complaint because he was a trustee of the fraternity, its founding member and allegedly knew of the initiation rites of Atio.

However, such allegations, he said, were mere conjectures because “complainants could not point to a single circumstance showing I had prior actual knowledge of this particular hazing incident.”

The law dean denied that Atio made a courtesy call at his law office on Sept. 12. He attached a copy of CCTV footage of his law office to support his claim.

The Law Dean added that he also took a leave of absence from the fraternity.

“I purposely distanced myself from the members to maintain my impartiality…As a result of my conscious effort to maintain that distance, I have not kept track who the current active officers and members of the fraternity are, neither do I have even a single contact detail of these active members,” Divina said.

On Sept. 17, Divina said he only heard an unconfirmed report about the death of Atio from co-respondent, law partner and UST Civil Law faculty Secretary Arthur Capili.

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After ordering Capili to get more details, Divina said he only got the initial details of the incident from news reports in the morning of September 18.

Because of this, Divina said he immediately imposed a preventive suspension against those who may be responsible in accordance to the Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education.

He said the suspension should not be mistaken as obstruction of justice as he added he could have not reported to police what happened at the initiation rites since he did not know what actually took place.

Then, Divina said he was able to contact the parents of Atio through a former student and assured them of the school’s cooperation in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“The sudden change in focus from the perpetrators to “the Dean” was far from subtle.  The most outrageous allegations were floated to the media by the ones who now act as counsel for complainants.  Their allegations even ran counter to the pronouncements of their very own clients, the complainants herein.  The Supplemental Complaint-Affidavits against me, therefore, are not just the products of an afterthought.  These are the products of the crude maneuverings of persons who claim to represent complainants but in truth are pursuing their own personal agenda,” Divina said,

“I have nothing but sympathy and respect for the complainants.  I continue to reiterate my offer to help in whatever way I can.  However, the Honorable Office should not allow Atio’s death to be used in furtherance of the selfish motives of those behind the smear campaign against me,” Divina said.

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