Another life is lost. Horacio Castillo III is now dead. A hopeful law student and perhaps a budding lawyer had his future ended in one night, all, allegedly, for membership to a law school fraternity. A 22-year old Political Science graduate of the University of Santo Tomas is found lifeless, enclosed in a bag in the sidewalks of Tondo, with limbs grossly discolored, in such a pitiful state that only troubling scenes of torture can produce. Cigarette and candle wax burns show the barbarity of his final moments. He left his home, reportedly saying to his parents that he will be welcomed to the fraternity that night, but that night was apparently his last. He was not welcomed. In fact, he may have been ditched – ditched in a devastatingly murderous way. He was left alone – on the side of the road – perhaps to rot, perhaps to be found by a bystander, perhaps in a failed attempt to simulate an EJK, not knowing that the boy is open to his family in joining the fraternity.
As the Supreme Court once said in a hazing case, “It is truly astonishing how men would wittingly or unwittingly impose the misery of hazing and employ appalling rituals in the name of brotherhood. There must be a better way to establish kinship.” What brotherhood would hurt and kill one another? What brotherhood would welcome a person by physical abuse? One may laugh at my ignorance of fraternity bonds and traditions, but that laughter is at the expense of others’ lives, and recently, maybe that of Horacio. If this is indeed a case of fraternity hazing, this is deplorable.
Law students study the law to uphold it, not to break it, not to execute a bloody mockery of it. In today’s culture of murder, it is expected that those who study the law will be the most vigilant and ardent in stopping it. We fear that we are wrong. We fear that, maybe, among us walking and studying in our historical corridors are perpetrators of death and physical abuse. We fear how people can do atrocious deeds in the name of loyalty, of “brotherhood”, of fraternity membership. We fear that people may lightly hold a codal in one hand, and one’s life, even more lightly and carelessly, in another.
Rest in peace, Horacio Castillo III. The entire UST Law community is shocked and enraged at your death. May justice be served. We seek #JusticeForHoracio. We seek expulsion, sanctions, and imprisonment for those who acted unlawfully. We seek an end to all forms of senseless violence, hazing or not. Horacio had a bright future; now it is gone. Lest we may be misconstrued as jumping to conclusions and criminal convictions, we sincerely hope that this is not a case of hazing. We hope that his death is justified or that it could have been meaningful. However, we ask, what good meaning and sense can we see behind this seemingly meaningless and senseless loss of life? #