House justice subcommittee approves Anti-Hazing Law revisions
As the Senate looks into the fatal hazing of a University of Santo Tomas law student, the House of Representatives is considering a bill that would repeal the 22-year-old Anti-Hazing Law and prohibit the practice in schools and communities.
The House justice subcommittee on prosecutorial reforms on Tuesday approved House Bill No. 3467, or the proposed Revised Anti-Hazing Law, which would enforce standards against hazing rites stricter than those provided in Republic Act No. 8049.
The bill seeks to prohibit hazing and regulates initiation rites by student or community organizations, including fraternities and sororities.
Not just regulation but ban
“The main difference is that in RA 8049 we were regulating hazing, as opposed to this, where we are prohibiting hazing,” said Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, a principal author of the proposal.
The bill seeks to bar any fraternity, sorority or youth organization from inflicting not only physical injuries but also psychological injuries, she said.
Herrera-Dy said the bill made a distinction between “hazing” and “initiation rites,” and expanded its coverage to include community-based organizations.
Some of the pertinent changes include requiring fraternities, sororities and other organizations to register with schools or local governments.
Another is the requirement to assign a faculty adviser who would be responsible for monitoring the activities of fraternities and sororities in schools.
“Another highlight of the bill is impermissible defenses so that consent of the victim shall not exempt the perpetrator from liability,” Herrera-Dy said.
Before Castillo’s death
“This is so that the child’s waiver shall no longer be used as an excuse to be exempted,” she said.
Penalties under RA 8049 would be retained, including for death and physical injuries.
The justice committee chair, Reynaldo Umali, clarified that the committee had begun working on the bill even before the hazing death of UST law student Horacio Castillo III.
His panel invited several resource persons to give inputs on the bill.
Deputy Supreme Court Administrator Raul Villanueva, speaking in a personal capacity, proposed that school authorities be made accountable whether or not any death or physical injury resulted from hazing.
He also suggested that school heads be held accountable whether or not they were aware there was hazing.
“To my mind, it can be legislated that whether or not there is knowledge, so long as there is death or serious physical injury, it may enjoin school heads that these activities are really regulated,” he said.
Once the bill is approved by the mother committee, the justice panel chaired by Umali, the proposed measure will be tabled for plenary debate.