Fratmen in Senate want swift justice for hazing victimsBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Members of fraternities in the Senate want swift justice meted out to those who end up killing neophytes seeking membership in their organizations.
“The penalty for death arising from hazing is reclusion perpetua. Hazing is a capital offense. There is little left to do in the area of legislation that will help prevent the violation of the antihazing law,” said Senator Francis Pangilinan, a member of the University of the Philippines’ Upsilon Sigma Phi.
He said what was needed was the swift resolution of hazing cases favoring conviction. “Only when the law is applied swiftly and in full will students be deterred from disregarding the
antihazing law. Otherwise, it will be hazing as usual,” he added in a text message.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a member of the Sigma Rho Fraternity, based in the UP College of Law, expressed exasperation over the fraternity-related violence but indicated there were enough laws to bring to justice those who get involved in fatal hazing rites.
“All that’s needed is law enforcement. Jail them. Prosecute and punish them if it’s warranted. Charge them with murder if it’s murder; homicide, if homicide,” Enrile told reporters when asked if the country’s hazing law should be strengthened.
In a tweet on Thursday, Senator Gregorio Honasan noted the uselessness of hazing in a fraternity.
“Hazing does not promote brotherhood,” said Honasan. Aside from being a member of the Philippine Military Academy’s Class of 1971, Honasan is also a member of UP’s Alpha Sigma Fraternity. Honasan’s brother, Mel, died in a fraternity hazing incident in 1976.
Pangilinan condemned the recent death by apparent hazing of San Beda College law student Marc Andre Marcos, 21.
He expressed alarm over San Beda’s failure to stop the violence even after the hazing-related death of Marvin Reglos five months ago.
“Two deaths in just five months is truly alarming. We have yet to see decisive action from San Beda officials and take any responsibility toward the care and general welfare of its students. They are morally obligated to put an end to the senseless killings by fellow students,” Pangilinan said.
He said “San Beda as an institution cannot merely shrug its shoulders and say that it has banned fraternities and has stopped recognizing them as formal entities within its campus and therefore it’s not criminally liable.”
Pangilinan said banning fraternities after the first death from hazing did not deter these groups from victimizing their fellow students.
“The school must take concrete steps in putting a stop to these misguided people with a misplaced sense of brotherhood. They are morally obligated to do so,” he said.
Senator Francis Escudero, a member of the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity also of the UP College of Law, also condemned the death of Marcos and demanded that law enforcement agencies immediately bring the suspects to justice.
“It is clear that there should be stricter monitoring of fraternities, especially those that have a track record of excessive initiation violence. Hazing goes beyond the spirit of fraternal brotherhood, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” said Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights.
Escudero vowed to look into possible amendments to strengthen the antihazing law and to review the budgets of state colleges and universities “to see how the institutions can help curb such activities perpetrated by recognized fraternities.”
“If we want to eradicate hazing, then there must be firmly established chains of command responsibility within the colleges and universities that host fraternities. There must be accountability,” he said.
Senator Pia Cayetano, a former grand archon of the Delta Lambda Sigma in UP, said those responsible for Marcos’ death must be arrested immediately and made to face justice.
She also called on senior fraternity members and alumni “to break their silence to help solve the case and end the cycle of fraternity hazing deaths.”
“Can we hear from the senior brods? Members of the fraternity who are now established members of the bar? Do you talk to the current leaders of your frat and do you tolerate these kinds of hazing activities?” Cayetano said.
“It would seem that there is lack of interest and determination among fraternity leaders and alumni to address these senseless deaths. They should come out and stop hiding behind the cloak of secrecy and false sense of brotherhood,” she added.
Cayetano said she would look into proposals to amend the antihazing law.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the antihazing law shouldn’t just regulate hazing but ban it altogether. “That’s what we should study; it’s possible to really totally ban this form of hazing,” Sotto told reporters.
Other members of fraternities in the Senate include Edgardo Angara of Sigma Rho, Joker Arroyo of Upsilon, Franklin Drilon of Sigma Rho and Manny Villar of Pan Xenia.
CHR for criminalizing hazing
For her part, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales wants to criminalize, not just regulate, the practice of hazing in schools.
She said the CHR would push for the amendment of the antihazing law in Congress by treating it as a criminal offense.
“It’s a weird law. It’s supposed to be antihazing and yet it does not criminalize hazing, it merely regulates hazing,” Rosales said.
An official of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) official wants the antihazing law amended to include a provision on the mandatory registration of fraternities and sororities.
CHEd executive director Julito Vitriolo noted that the registration of these organizations was a practice undertaken by some schools on their initiative, and not by virtue of the fact that it was mandated by Republic Act No. 8049. With reports from Cynthia D. Balana and Kristine Felisse Mangunay