MANILA, Philippines—At least three House members have responded to calls to overhaul the country’s Anti-Hazing Law in the wake of another death resulting from fraternity violence, which they take as a sign of the law’s failure nearly two decades after its passage.
Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin T. Gatchalian said a new law should replace Republic Act No. 8049 to put an end to these senseless deaths, the latest of which was that of Guillo Cesar Servando, a sophomore from the De la Salle-College of St. Benilde in Manila.
“The so-called Anti-Hazing Law is a misnomer. It does not prohibit hazing but only regulates it. We need a new law that will put an end to violent hazing, which has caused several deaths in the past,” said Gatchalian, a majority member of the House committee on higher and technical education.
The new law should require the accreditation of fraternities and sororities as recognized campus organizations in order to prevent school administrators from evading liability in supervising student activities, he added.
“The more you ban fraternities, the more they will go underground and conduct their activities sub rosa. But if you accredit them as regular school organizations, they will be forced to submit to the rules and regulations of universities and colleges,” said Gatchalian.
Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez added: “In the 19 long years since the law took effect, it is very alarming that young men continue to lose their lives to hazing during fraternity initiation rites. There is an urgent need to review the law and introduce whatever amendments are necessary to end the senseless deaths of so many of our promising young men.”
Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo filed House Bill 4686, which called on the Commission on Higher Education to define campus hazing, enumerate its forms, and conduct an anti-hazing drive in colleges and universities. The student handbook, for example, should note “activities that have the nature of hazing” and impose stringent disciplinary sanctions to “deter perpetrators right off,” Castelo said.
Gutierrez also pushed for the adoption of a tracking system to monitor the schools’ compliance with the law, including a database on all hazing cases and perpetrators.
Servando was a native of Bacolod City, where local officials condoled with the victim’s family and joined calls for tougher measures against hazing, with Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon even calling for an outright ban on fraternities.
“What kind of brotherhood is that when they hurt their own brothers?” Maranon said.
“So many of these cases have shaken us before, but this time it is personal to us in Bacolod,” said Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia.
(With a report from Carla P. Gomez, Inquirer Visayas)