In a Resolution dated 5 November 2014 and released today, a Panel of National Prosecution Service (NPS) prosecutors found probable cause to indict fourteen (14) individuals for violation of Republic Act No. 8049, in connection with the death of Guillo U. Servando and injuries inflicted on his fellow neophytes, John Paul C. Raval, Lorenze Anthony R. Agustin and Levin Roland Flores.
The Panel found that “there exists probable cause to indict” the following “members of the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity, College of St. Benilde Chapter,” who “were present during the final initiation rites of victims Servando, Raval, Agustin and Flores on June 28, 2014,” and who conducted “[t]he initiation rites of the four (4) neophytes ... without notice and authority from school authorities concerned”:
1. CODY ERROL MORALES y SORIANO, alias “CODY MORALES”;
2. DANIEL PAUL MARTIN BAUTISTA, alias “POPE BAUTISTA”;
3. KURT MICHAEL ALMAZANy DICEN, alias "KURT";
4. ESMERSON NATHANIEL CALUPAS y LOPEZ, alias “EMENG”;
5. HANS KILLIAN TATLONGHARI y TUMANENG, alias
6. ELEAZAR III PABLICO YGARCIA alias “TREX GARCIA”;
7. JOHN KEVIN NAVOA y ALCALA;
8.. VIC ANGELO DY y GO;
9. MARK ANDREW RAMOS y SORIANO;
10. MICHAEL DAVID CASTAÑEDA y TRESIANA;
11. JUSTIN FRANCIS D. REYES, alias “JAY RAY” and alias “RAY JAY”;
12. alias “KIKO”;
13. alias “BEA”; and
14. JANE DOE.
According to the Panel, “[t]he positive identification of the fraternity members of Tau Gamma Phi by the three neophytes, Raval, Agustin and Flores, who survived the hazing,” and were not even blindfolded at the time, “as well as their vivid recollection of what really transpired on June 28, 2014, which at least were not rebutted by the respondents, who either resorted to flight or disappear[ance] to parts unknown, more than swayed our minds to morally conclude that they were telling the truth, and that their testimonies were in fact credible, true and straightforward.” Such testimonies were found to be “likewise buttressed by the sworn statements of the maintenance and security personnel of One Archer's Place Condominium ... where victim Servando expired,” and by other pieces of evidence (i.e., the closed circuit tv footages from the condominium on the day of the initiation rites, as well as photographs submitted by complainants).
The Panel resolved to charge Almazan, even though said respondent claimed that he only participated in the initiation rites because he was threatened by respondent MORALES, finding that such defense is “uncorroborated and self-serving”, and “at most ... evidentiary in nature at the moment, and which should be threshed out in the full-blown trial of the case."
On the other hand, the Panel resolved to dismiss the charge against the following respondents:
1. JEMAR P. PAJARITO;
2. LUIS SOLOMON R. AREVALO;
3. CARL FRANCIS L. LORESCA;
4. STEVEN JORGE V. PEÑANO, alias “PENNY”;
5. MA.TERESA G. DAYANGHIRANG; and
6. ALYSSAFEDERIQUE E. VALBUENA.
As to Pajarito, who is the caretaker of the house wherein the initiation rites was conducted, the Panel favorably considered “his defense of his lack of knowledge on the planned initiation rites,” which “was not at all contradicted by any of the respondents nor the victims themselves,” and the finding that “he did not participate in the infliction of physical harm on the person of the neophytes,” but, “[i]n fact, ... provided the victims assistance in order to prevent them from fainting or passing out.” Thus, the Panel concluded that they “are thus of the obstinate view that he should not be indicted for violation of R.A. 8049.”
The Panel likewise declined to find probable cause against Arevalo, Loresca and Peñano who, though were identified as members of the fraternity and were, at least, present (in the case of Arevalo) at or momentarily seen passing by during the initiation rite (in the case of Loresca and Peñano), “did not, in fact, inflict any physical harm to the victims.” The same conclusion and holding was applied to the other two respondents, Dayanghari and Valbuena, who were likewise present during the initiation rites.
This is in spite of the presumption in the law, stating that “mere presence of any person during the hazing is prima facie evidence of participation therein as principal unless he prevented the commission of the acts punishable [t]herein.”
According to the Panel, "[t]o [their] minds, the context of such a presumption must however be inevitably correlated with Section 4 of the special law which clearly enunciates that – “If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who ACTUALLY PARTICIPATED IN THE INFLICTION OF PHYSICAL HARM shall be liable as principals.”
The Panel, thus noted that, “[t]herein lies the flaw in the law, so to speak, in that spectators or attendees to a hazing rite cannot ipso facto be criminally indicted as principal to the crime on account of mere attendance therein, and if said spectators or attendees did not actually participate in the infliction of physical injury to the neophytes.”
The Panel pointed out, too, that among the other principals who are indictable under the law are the officers, former officers, or alumni of the organization, group or fraternity or sorority who actually planned the hazing although not present when the acts constituting the hazing were committed. Among the accomplices, on the other hand, are the owner of the place where the hazing was conducted, the parents or officers of the organization, fraternity, group or organization, if it could be proven that they had actual knowledge of the hazing. However, in the complaint, only those who were present during the hazing were charged, and complainants “did not include the owner of the house, nor the alumni or officers of the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity and school authorities, for the expedient and plain reason that there was no evidence of their consent or knowledge on their part of such hazing.”
According to Certifications issued by the Bureau of Immigration, respondents Navoa, Pablico, Tatlonghari, Calupas and Valbuena have already left the country on various dates.