EDITORIAL - Ruined lives

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Six young women, according to the Manila Police District, are expected to be included in the charge sheet in connection with the hazing death of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III. MPD officials said the six are members of the Regina Legis et Juris, sister sorority of the Aegis Juris fraternity that Castillo had hoped to join.

The MPD has so far filed charges of murder, violation of the anti-hazing law, robbery, obstruction of justice and perjury against about 20 Aegis Juris members and other individuals suspected of trying to cover up the hazing death of the University of Santo Tomas law student.

The public can only hope lessons are being imparted in this quest for justice for Atio Castillo so that no one else will suffer his fate. Unlike in previous hazing deaths, those who might be held accountable in the hazing followed by the cover-up are being pinned down by extensive video footage from surveillance cameras almost everywhere – in streets, at the hospital where Castillo was taken too late, at the airport where one of the suspects and his mother boarded a flight to the US, and at the Novotel Hotel where the fraternity members discussed their next move. Recovered chat messages also provide strong evidence of a conspiracy to cover up, which cannot be expunged by older fraternity members who might attempt to influence prosecutors and judges to clear the suspects.

Atio Castillo calls for justice, and there cannot be a place in the legal profession for those who kill in the name of a twisted brotherhood. But there is also tragedy in seeing promising young men facing a bleak future for unleashing their inner murderer. Now six young women will face the same fate. Measures to ban violent rites for acceptance into fraternities and sororities must be aimed not only to save neophytes from death, physical injury and psychological trauma, but also to prevent youths from destroying their lives by indulging in senseless, evil violence.

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