MANILA, Philippines - The third victim of the alleged initiation rites by the Lambda Rho Beta fraternity where San Beda College of Law freshman Marvin Reglos was killed surfaced before the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima personally met the new witness, who was accompanied by his mother in volunteering to help in the investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation.
“He did not want to be placed in the WPP (witness protection program) but he will cooperate in the investigation. He will execute an affidavit recounting that (hazing) incident,” De Lima told reporters in an ambush interview after the closed-door meeting.
De Lima said she saw bruises on the victim’s body that he supposedly incurred from the initiation rites.
Contrary to an earlier report, she said the third victim was never in critical condition. He just went home to his province after the alleged hazing because he is suffering from congenital heart ailment, she said.
De Lima did not identify the new witness pending his execution of an affidavit, just like the second victim who earlier had sought help from the DOJ and was already placed on the witness protection program.
An ABS-CBN report though earlier quoted police investigators as identifying the two San Beda law students Jan Darrel Iringan and Omar Suhibil.
“The victim is now being questioned by NBI investigators so we cannot yet share at this time any information coming from him,” she added.
De Lima said the NBI would soon meet with police probers for a case conference, where they would consolidate their initial findings.
The Antipolo City police yesterday filed charges against Grand Rhoan Eduardo Escobal, a lawyer and eight others for the fatal hazing last Feb. 19.
Charged before the Antipolo City prosecutor’s office for murder in relation to Republic Act 8049 or the anti-hazing law were Escobal, lawyer Dino Robert de Leon, John Carlo Agito, Glenn Recablanca, Kevin Mendoza, Norman Espinosa, Marco Ampil, Kevin Brian Pe, Ysrael Cruz, Christian Adobo, and five John Does.
This brought to 14 the number of fraternity members charged for the hazing of Reglos and the two fraternity neophytes in an Antipolo City resort.
Earlier, Superintendent Rodino Elfa, Antipolo City police chief, filed charges against frat members Erick Castillo, Bodjie Yap, Arjay Gregana and Juifali Abdula. Only Castillo and Yap are under police custody.
The fraternity is the counterpart of the Lambda Rho Sigma sorority at the San Beda College of Law that De Lima co-founded.
Despite her link to the fraternity involved, De Lima gave assurance that there would be no whitewash in the probe.
She said, “This should not be a cause for any concern or fear of the outcome of the probe.”
“My instructions are very clear. Just like in any investigation we are conducting, we are here to ferret out the truth and hold those responsible accountable. We are appealing to those involved to trust in our institution. I will never stand for any suppression of truth or injustice,” she said. – With Non Alquitran - By Edu Punay