Forgive and forget: The fragmentary epilogue of the June 18 mauling

BY DENVER JETT FAJANILAN


On two close occasions last June 18, four UP Diliman students were mauled in the campus grounds.

Four university student council (USC) general assemblies (GA), several investigation processes and legal proceedings later, it seems the widely-publicized “frat-related incident” would never reach its long-awaited closure.

“Their case has just rested,” said USC councilor Beata Carolino in an online interview, on the issue proceedings after the five suspects bailed out of prison.

This, six months after UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan said the UP administration would make sure the real suspects receive corresponding punishments.

During the celebration of UP’s foundation day, students Jesus Blas Vitangcol and Joevie Dela Cruz were mauled at 3 p.m. by masked men in a blue Mazda along Apacible Street in UP Diliman, police said. An hour later, Ernesto Pangalangan and Mario Santos who tried to help them were also beaten by another set of perpetrators in a silver Peugeot van.

While widely interpreted in public as frat wars, Alpha Sigma Fraternity Alumni president Atty. Roel Pulido said the incident was merely an assault on Alpha Sigma with which Upsilon is the only active participant on the attack.

“We want to clarify…there was no rumble. There was just a treacherous attack on our frat,” Pulido told GMA News Online.

Four USC GAs, several investigation processes and legal proceedings later, it seems the widely-publicized “frat-related incident” would never reach its long-awaited closure.

UP Diliman Police identified the suspects for Pangalangan and Santos’s mauling as alleged members of Upsilon Sigma Phi Cheran Cabrito, Elias Miles Villanueva, Rudolf Gene Karlo Neral, Rannie Mercado, and Sean Rodriguez, which USC chair JP Delas Nieves confirmed later in the council’s GA.

A baseball bat and lead pipes used for beating, as well as a ski mask, were found inside the van.

Six days after, the Quezon City court released them after bailing out each with charges for act of frustrated murder, P200,000; violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms law, P80,000; malicious mischief, P2,000; and slight physical injury, P2,000.

They were put under preventive suspension by the university so they would not interfere with the investigations. Neral, meanwhile, is a UP alumnus.

Three of the top leaders of Upsilon who were apparently involved were also put under preventive suspension.

“We want to clarify there was no rumble. There was just a treacherous attack on our frat,” Alpha Sigma Fraternity Alumni president Roel Pulido said.

On the other hand, the suspects’ lawyer Alex Avisado is convinced his clients were falsely implicated and that the UPD Police planted bullets in their van.

According to the Inquirer, Avisado said, “We are already preparing to file criminal and administrative charges against the UP police for falsely implicating the five students and for illegally planting evidence,” adding there is no basis in filing the charges.

In light of the June 18 incident, UPD Police confirmed an attack that happened two days prior the incident involving a member of Upsilon mauled by unknown perpetrators and it is assumed the perpetrators are from the Alpha Sigma.

The highly sensationalized events, the news coverage of which was even jeered by independent media monitor Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility for inaccuracy, among others, led to Delas Nieves’ expulsion from his political party UP ALYANSA.

This was after he withheld knowledge of said incident and refused resignation from his fraternity, saying in his July 1 Facebook post he continues to believe in the principles of his fraternity.

Not everyone, however, was satisfied with Delas Nieves receiving corresponding sanctions.

The council GAs received flak from several UP student-critics after giving more focus on deciding Delas Nieves’ sanctions rather than the incident itself, which took a toll on the meetings’ productivity. For instance, the June 24 GA, which started at 7 p.m., adjourned only at around 5:30 in the morning.

As of now, a clear evidence is yet to be found. Nothing has been heard of about the legal proceedings after the alleged suspects had bailed out.

The July 3 council GA discussed in length the impeachment complaint filed by USC councilor Allan Pangilinan, who also heads the June 16 fact-finding committee, plus another one on July 15 where a votation among the USC members decided Delas Nieves’ expulsion, for which the case was dismissed.

But the council was without clues with regard to who attacked in the two incidents, even after inviting in the June 24 GA Alpha Sigma’s Lord Chancellor Raphael Pangalangan and Upsilonian JC Tejano, who kept silent while asking to postpone the GA to give his fraternity more time.

As of now, a clear evidence is yet to be found. Nothing has been heard of about the legal proceedings after the alleged suspects had bailed out.

Carolino said, “There is even a committee formed for that [June 18 incident investigation] but still nothing happened.” ✒

Header image from thephilippinepride.com

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