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Déjà vu for Lenny Villa’s ma

By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Inquirer
First Posted 00:41:00 09/02/2007

Filed Under: University, Education, Crime

TIAONG, Quezon -- For Gerarda Villa, the mother of another hazing victim who died 16 years ago, the sight of the lifeless and battered body of UP senior student Cris Anthony Mendez was one painful déjà vu.

?They have the same chronology of events. Their badly beaten bodies were both brought to the hospital by three vehicles which then hurriedly left. Based on news accounts, I can say I again experienced the death of Lenny,? Villa, president of the Crusade Against Violence (CAV), told the Inquirer in an interview at the Mendez house in Barangay Talisay on Saturday.

Villa?s son Lenny was a neophyte of Aquila Legis, a fraternity in the Ateneo de Manila University Law School, who died after three days of bloody hazing rites in February 1991.

Lenny, a first year Ateneo student, died of serious physical injuries at the Chinese General Hospital where he was rushed.

Villa said they won the case in the lower court against 26 members of the Aquila Legis but it was overturned by the Court of Appeals. The case is now with the Supreme Court.

?Every time there?s a hazing victim, my heart bleeds in grief. I remember my son. It?s really lonely,? Villa said.

?What else should we do? We?ve already exerted all efforts to stop this hazing practice but it seems our labors are not enough. I?m afraid that I would not be able to see the fruits of our campaign to totally stop hazing,? she added.

But Mendez family members believed that the 21-year-old graduating UP student was not a hazing victim.

?The family could not share the belief that Cris died from hazing. He wouldn?t engage himself in such group. Besides, he did not mention anything about fraternity when he was still alive,? said village chair Pedro Panopio, who spoke in behalf of the family.

Panopio hinted that Cris could have been a victim of a free-for-all mauling because of the presence of fatal injuries in different parts of his body.

During the interview, Cris? mother, Cristina Garcia Mendez, declined to answer questions and just silently sat beside the casket of her son.



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