Senators believe Divina is Aegis’ fratmen’s ‘big brother’

Friday, November 10th, 2017. Filed under: News

MANILA, Nov 6 (Mabuhay) — Most of the members of the Senate panel looking into the death of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III believe the so-called “big brother” of the Aegis Juris fraternity is no less than University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law dean Nilo Divina, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Monday.

Lacson, chairperson of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee, said his colleagues arrived at the conclusion because Divina was the most prominent and appeared to be the “most influential” Aegis Juris member.

Divina is not only a law dean but he is also the founder and managing partner of DivinaLaw, one of the country’s fastest-growing law firms.

“Most of my colleagues are in the belief that the big brother is supposed to be Dean Divina. But definitely, yung big brother hindi yung elders as manifested by Atty. [Eric] Fuentes,” Lacson told reporters after the hearing.

“I’m open. Wala akong conclusion na strong enough to suspect na si Dean Divina ‘yun. It could be anybody else but not elders,” he added.

Asked about the relevance of “big brother” in the probe, Lacson said: “Malaki ang relevance kasi kung sino yung big brother, nag de-defer sa kanya ang mga members so malaking influence.”

It was Fuentes who relayed “big brother’s” instructions to all frat brods to show support to their fratmates by attending the Senate investigation.

During the hearing, Fuentes said “big brother” is a generic term for former Aegis Juris presidents and elder brods. He denied it was Divina, saying they refer to him as “Dean Divina” or “Sir Divina.”

Pressed by Senator Grace Poe about the identity of “big brother,” hazing suspect-turned-witness Marc Anthony Ventura named a certain “Atty. Bernardo” as the big brother.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri later recognized lawyer Arnel Bernardo, who said he was not aware that he was being called by that name.

Divina, meanwhile, denied that Castillo set foot at his law office and denied seeing him at PacificStarBuilding, which houses DivinaLaw, in MakatiCity.

“One thing is for certain, he (Castillo) did not set foot in DivinaLaw. We installed 16 CCTVs in our office and it will clearly show that he did not set foot in DivinaLaw office,” said Divina, adding they submitted copies of the footage to the Senate committee.

During the hearing, Poe asked for footage of the closed-circuit television cameras at the Pacific Star building to check if Castillo had visited the law firm. On September 12, Castillo texted his mother that he was at a law office just across Petron on Buendia Avenue.

“The reason why I’m asking here is because there are just a few connections here that we need to seriously note,” said Poe, vice chairperson of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs.

Lacson said the building owner is asking for a court order before the Senate committee secures CCTV footage, but the panel was able to obtain video recordings on September 12 which showed Castillo inside the building.

“So I just want to make sure that they’re complying because their general counsel is DivinaLaw, again connected to this situation,” said Poe.

Shown footage of the building, Castillo’s parents confirmed to senators that their son was indeed the man wearing the blue jacket.

“It looks very much like him… His mom bought that jacket. He was wearing black pants and black shoes. And also the hairstyle,” Castillo’s father, Horacio II, said.

The UST law dean claimed that he had distanced himself from the fraternity, including its activities and meetings, telling the Senate during previous hearings that he took a leave of absence after he took over the deanship eight years ago.

Poe expressed disbelief, citing connections of Aegis Juris and its activities with Divina.

“From what is clear here he said that he (Castillo) was going to a law office. It could be one of the three, not necessarily yours. All of the connections—Aegis Juris having strong ties with DivinaLaw; DivinaLaw maintaining the website for the school; DivinaLaw having a lot of support for the fraternity; you being the dean and him, mentioning that he is in a law office close to that building or within that building where you have your law firm,” she said.

Poe said the Pacific Star Building is owned by Century Properties, whose corporate secretary is said to be a senior partner at DivinaLaw.

The senator also disclosed that Century Properties also owns Novotel Manila in Cubao, Quezon City where some Aegis Juris fratmen, including some elder brods, reportedly met in the afternoon of September 17, hours after Castillo’s death, to discuss their next move.

Facebook chats among frat members prior to the meeting also emerged which the Manila Police District viewed as a plot to cover up the incident. (MNS)

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