Hazing victim Salilig laid to rest as kin cry for justice | Inquirer News

Hazing victim Salilig laid to rest as kin cry for justice

/ 02:42 AM March 05, 2023

John Matthew Salilig. STORY: Hazing victim John Matthew Salilig buried as kin cry for justice

John Matthew Salilig (Photo courtesy of the Salilig family)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines —The Salilig family is taking with a grain of salt reports that a person of interest in the hazing death of John Matthew had committed suicide.

The police revealed on Friday that a certain Sakmal took his life and was found by his father in his apartment in Taguig City on Feb. 28, 10 days after Matthew died in Biñan City, Laguna, from blows during “welcoming” rites by the Adamson University chapter of Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.


Jeoffrey Salilig, Matthew’s father, told reporters here that at first he was saddened about the suicide, but without proof, they would treat the information with doubt.


“We just heard about it. There was no actual update from the Department of Justice. If indeed there is truth about suicide, we want to see concrete evidence. For now, I smell something is not right here,” Salilig said.

“There was no body, no report where he was buried, nothing. Perhaps, he fled,” he added.


John Michael, Matthew’s eldest brother, questioned the timing of the announcement of Sakmal’s supposed suicide.

“[It was] at the height when police personnel were rounding up persons of interest, and that’s the time authorities revealed about his suicide,” Michael said. “We will see. We [have] treated this report with a grain of salt.”

Matthew was laid to rest at the Forest Lake Memorial Park in Barangay Tumaga here on Saturday morning, alongside his 86-year-old grandfather who died four days after he was reported missing.

A huge crowd of family members, relatives, friends, and sympathizers gathered for the funeral motorcade and attended the Requiem Mass at the Metropolitan Immaculate Conception Cathedral prior to the internment.

Family, friends, and relatives wore black shirts with printed with Matthew’s face printed and the words “Crying for justice.”

In his eulogy, John Martin, another of Matthew’s brothers, recalled that their grandfather, Romulo, who was “overprotective of Matt-Matt” felt worried upon learning he had gone missing.

“So we decided to embark on searching, and we promised him that we will bring him home safely,” Martin said, breaking into tears.

Matthew was found dumped in a shallow grave in Imus, Cavite on Feb. 28. After an autopsy, he was flown on a military plane here on Thursday.

“On February 28, when we found your body, I saw you lying naked, lifeless, I got really mad. I was wondering how you felt that day. You really suffered a lot little bro. I cannot really accept what happened to you, Matt. What happened to you was inhuman. I hate my last memory of you, Matt-Matt,” a tearful Martin said.

“We will miss our little moments with you before sleeping, your corny jokes, your hugs and kisses, small talks. Thank you for the good and bad memories you left with us,” he added.

He appealed to the public to help them find peace and justice for his brother.

Jeoffrey said the family would continue to demand justice.

“Hopefully, justice will be served. My son died innocently, helplessly. Hopefully, this will be an eye-opener to all the organizations: What is true brotherhood? Brotherhood is about taking care of one another, not killing,” Jeoffrey said.

“We will not rest, we will keep fighting for justice not just for Matt-Matt, but for all the victims of hazing. These hazings and killings will have to come to an end.”

A frat initiator tells his story

Observing the crowd at the internment, a 55-year-old tricycle driver named Alex poured out to the Inquirer his bad memories of hazing and fraternity life, saying he felt bad about Matthew’s death.

“I was jailed for hazing. I killed a fellow fratman in December 1990. That person was the first [hazing] victim of Tau Gamma Phi in Zamboanga City. I was one of his initiators,” Alex began his story.

He was then an accounting junior at one of the universities in the city when he and more than a dozen ‘brods’ were asked to initiate a pledgee by delivering a required 120 paddle hits.

“When the person collapsed, we took him to Zamboanga City Medical Center, then named the Zamboanga General Hospital. Then we started hiding,” Alex said.

Alex said his life was devastated after that incident.

“It was a small world and we were all arrested. I served my sentence. The cops told our family that we killed not a dog but a person. So we were jailed,” Alex said.

At that time, there was still no anti-hazing law.

After serving jail time, Alex said his life was not the same anymore.

“I cannot enroll in any school, even outside Zamboanga City. My records showed that I had a criminal case. Right now I am just a tricycle driver,” he said with a tinge of regret. “I hope the fraternities must really stop their hazing. It will not give them any good. It’s just a status symbol.”

Alex recounted that after theirs, two more hazing deaths were committed by Tau Gamma members in the city.

One was Anthony Javier, 18, a college student at Western Mindanao State University who died on Sept. 30, 2015.

The other was Joselito Fernandez, a senior high school student of Zamboanga City High School West, who died last Nov. 15, 2020, in Barangay Gusu.

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“I served my sentence, but what about the others who committed similar crimes for Javier and Envidiado?” Alex asked. “I may be a member of Tau Gamma Phi, but a lot has changed since our time. Hazing will stop, for now, but definitely, when the issue dies down, it will return.”


Suspect in Adamson hazing case undergoes inquest proceedings

2 Tau Gamma hazings now probed; frat man suicide bared

Cops want 10 persons of interest in hazing of Adamson student under watchlist

Tau Gamma Phi pioneers condemn death of WMSU student by hazing

Senior high school student dies in Zamboanga City frat initiation

TAGS: Hazing death, John Matthew Salilig, Tau Gamma Phi

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