By Deedee M. Siytangco
“And the effect of righteousness will be peace and the result of righteousness, peace, and trust forever.” Isaiah 32:17
This is the month of Our Lady of the Rosary. Let us not forget to offer what Our Lady loves best—our daily rosaries for peace!
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Last week I wrote about my reaction to Horacio Castillo III’s tragic death courtesy of his own fraternity “brothers.” There have been so many denials among the “brods” and finger pointing, I am afraid justice is still far for the Castillos. Will it end up that Atio tortured himself to death?
One royal legal battle looming is that between lawyers Lorna Kapunan and UST dean Nilo Divino. We finally met Dean Divino and I candidly told him I was ready to believe the demo job on him thanks to tri-media and online reports. He clarified key issues for us and I must admit, my initial perception of him has changed after that encounter. Perception can become reality if one does not make an effort to go beyond mass media hysteria and social media tweets and Facebook posts. So many fake news and demonizing tweets.
For starters, he is from Nueva Ecija, a UST law grad, magna cum laude, class valedictorian, father to five boys, head of a 60-man law office and lawyer to many distinguished personalities, former PCSO general manager, expert in corporate and litigation cases is indeed a lawyer to emulate (and envy) if one is to go by his spectacular rise and present niche in his profession. A daily mass-goer, this proud Tomasian, is a dedicated family man and as he said, values his reputation which he labored hard for.
He also revealed, on our prodding, about his social corporate conscience that his salary as dean has gone quietly directly into subsidizing scholarships for poor deserving UST law students. Nearly a hundred have benefited from his scholarship program.
His world now is shaken by the hazing death and by two cases filed by Lorna Kapunan against him which he laments are baseless and totally malicious, to dishonor him. He will fight it, he assured us. “My conscience is clear. As my rector advised me, I will pray and pray hard.”
Having heard his explanations and having “grilled” him together with the rest of the media present, I wonder now my friend, feisty gung-ho celebrity lawyer Lorna Kapunan has indeed over-done herself with her claim in a TV interview on Sept. 27 that UST Law Dean Nilo Divina not only recruited law freshman Horacio Castillo III into the Aegis Juris fraternity but that Divina also knew that Castillo was to undergo initiation rites on the evening that he died? Not true, Divina told us.
According to Kapunan, Castillo’s father called up Divina to ask him that since the law dean is also a member of Aegis, then he could make it easy for his son during the initiation rites? As alleged by Kapunan, Divina assured the father that no hazing would happen since Aegis Juris is an academic fraternity.
However, the victim’s father, in response to a question by Senator Grace Poe, categorically denied he called up Divina to ask him to take care of his son during the initiation. What is the truth here?
Kapunan’s claim that Divina recruited Castillo also contradicts the facts established by resource persons in the UST academic community. Divina took a leave of absence from Aegis Juris when he assumed the UST deanship eight years ago. He even suspended and expelled Aegis Juris members for involvement in frat violence and for academic deficiencies.
Divina also made an appeal during the Senate investigation for all members of Aegis to come out and to cooperate fully with investigators to give justice to the death of Castillo. He also opened the door of the UST College of Civil Law to probers.
Dean Divina who suffered malicious insinuations during the hearing that the frat members even went to his house in panic to ask the dean what to do in the face of Castillo’s injuries. The problem with this claim is that it is based solely only nameless and faceless “credible sources” who, like the call that did not happen, can be assumed to exist only in Kapunan’s imagination. Ouch!
What about the Rules of Court prescribing full confidentiality of disbarment cases? Note, Lorna called a press conference on a disbarment complaint she and Patricia Bautista filed against Divina and 20 other Divina Law Firm lawyers in relation to the Smartmatic contract with the Comelec.
Was that disbarment complaint purely for media mileage?
Divina has filed counter-complaints in Quezon City and Manila against Kapunan and Bautista, the estranged wife of Comelec chair Andres Bautista, for libel and for violations of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law.
It’s getting curiouser and curiouser, as the Cheshire cat said in Alice in Wonderland. In the meantime, frat brods, advises Divina, please show some guts and character and start telling the truth. If you have to do time in jail, do so. It will help you reflect, and apologize sincerely. A life was lost. Yes, there is life after Aegis!
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Good news department. When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Cebu City in October 2013, San Nicholas Elementary School (SNES) in Brgy. Duljo-Fatima suffered heavy destruction.
Eight of their classrooms were destroyed by the earthquake, so SNES had to implement morning and afternoon shifts to accommodate all classes. This pitiful situation went on for four years until the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) donated a four-storey, 20-classroom building to the school.
The new multi-storey building which was recently turned over to SNES now houses 854 pupils from Grades 5 and 6. “With the 20 additional classrooms, we no longer have to implement a shifting schedule. All our students are now in whole day classes,” SNES principal Donald Crisologo reported.
Built in 1927, SNES is one of the most populated public elementary schools in Cebu City with a total enrolment of 3,191 pupils from Kindergarten to Grade 6, including Special Education (SPED) classes.
Some of their students are still using dilapidated classrooms that were built 30 years ago. “These classrooms have already been recommended for demolition, but we’re still using them while waiting for replacement. Meanwhile, we are very thankful that PAGCOR provided new classrooms that are not just spacious but are sturdy and safe,” he said.
Grade 6 student Nick Diatoro recalled that during his early years in SNES, he and his classmates used to occupy termite-infested rooms. So now, it was a relief for Diatoro when he and his classmates became the first beneficiaries of PAGCOR’s new school building.
Another public school that benefited from PAGCOR’s school building program was the 108-year old Zapatera Elementary School (ZES) which received a four-storey, 20-classroom structure. Similar to SNES, ZES will now be able to hold whole day classes instead of the morning and afternoon shifts because of the new multi-storey PAGCOR building.
With the additional classrooms, ZES principal Lana Escario is optimistic that the academic performance of their students will improve. ZES students who lag behind can now attend remedial classes since they already have comfortable classrooms to use even after regular school hours, he said.
Casino Filipino Cebu branch manager Ricardo Uy, who attended the turnover ceremonies of the school buildings in SNES and ZES shared PAGCOR’s role in nation-building and its contributions to the education sector. “PAGCOR’s school building project has helped many public school children get the quality of education that they deserve by providing them with better learning environment. We are glad to have been a part of this noble mission to improve the learning condition—especially those in remote communities with no decent facilities,” he said.