Undeserving to be lawyers | Inquirer Opinion

Undeserving to be lawyers

05:03 AM September 27, 2017

In the name of brotherhood, another life was taken. This is the sad fate of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, a freshman law student at the University of Santo Tomas, who died of injuries from hazing as part of the initiation rites of Aegis Juris, a law fraternity.

As a Thomasian lawyer, I am aware why fraternities thrive in law school environment even if I did not join any of them.
Fraternities promise their recruits academic assistance, as well as reading materials and study programs accessible only to members. They also promise instant professional connections after school, as many of their “brod” are already accomplished lawyers in high-ranking positions.


But members of law fraternities who engage in hazing should never be allowed to become lawyers. As the Supreme Court says: “The practice of law is not a natural, absolute or constitutional right to be granted to everyone who demands it. Rather, it is a high personal privilege limited to citizens of good moral character, with special educational qualifications, duly ascertained and certified.”

In the past, some successful bar candidates were not allowed to take the lawyer’s oath because of hazing death. Al Argosino, though successful in passing the 1993 bar exam, was denied from taking the oath. Two years later, however, he was eventually allowed to take oath. To prove that he was a reformed man, he submitted at least 15 good moral certifications from senators, judges and members of religious orders, among others. Argosino likewise established a scholarship foundation in honor of Raul Camaligan, the hazing victim. (The San Beda College alumni office said there was no record of this foundation in an Inquirer report published 2/5/2017.—Ed.)


What is distressing, however, is that Argosino’s name would be dragged in a multi-million bribery scandal as deputy immigration commissioner years after the Supreme Court recognized that he “is not inherently of bad moral fiber,” and allowed him to become a lawyer.

Now comes Atio’s demise. Law students are again involved. By participating in hazing, they willingly violated the law. They are still just students now, but they are already daring enough to wantonly disregard lawful decrees. If they would be given more power and influence by adding the title “lawyer” to their names, then how much more fearless could they get?

Participating in hazing already speaks a lot about their degenerate character. Allowing Camaligan’s killer to become a lawyer years ago should have already taught us a valuable lesson. Certainly, it is not yet too late to rectify past gaffes by ensuring not to commit the same mistake in the present.
Atio’s killers should not become lawyers.

private law practitioner
[email protected]

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TAGS: Aegis Juris, Arjay Karlo F. Villanueva, hazing, Horacio Castillo III, Inquirer letters
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