Doctor who denied help to hazing victim hunted
MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police have been asked to identify and find the doctor who allegedly refused to help Adamson University student John Matthew Salilig as he was fighting for his life after undergoing a fraternity’s brutal “welcoming rites” last month.
At a Senate hearing on Monday, Sen. Francis Tolentino said that this information was in the sworn affidavit of Ralph Benjamin Tan, one of five Tau Gamma Phi fraternity members who surrendered to the NBI after being implicated in Salilig’s death.
Tolentino asked the NBI and PNP to identify and locate the unnamed doctor, supposedly a cousin of a certain alias Lee, who was also at the initiation rites held in Biñan City, Laguna province, on Feb. 18.
Lee, according to the senator, reportedly called up the doctor after Salilig suddenly collapsed when he was brought to a house in Parañaque City following the hazing rites.
“Are you looking for this doctor who declined to offer medical assistance when he saw (Salilig) dying?” Tolentino asked the NBI agents at the hearing. “Every doctor has sworn an oath to render medical assistance to a person in need. Are you investigating this doctor? What’s his name and where is he now? It’s just sad that a doctor refused to help [Salilig].”
Joseph Eufemio Martinez, the NBI supervising agent, said they were still trying to determine the real name of the doctor that Tan had mentioned in his affidavit.
“Apparently, Tan cannot identify who that doctor was. We are trying to pursue other information to identify him,” Martinez told the senator. He added that Lee was among 11 other suspects who were still at large.
PRC help sought
Tolentino, who presided over the hearing as chair of the Senate justice and human rights committee, said that the doctor should be held criminally liable for leaving Salilig for dead. He suggested that the NBI also seek the assistance of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) in identifying and tracking him down.
“That is a violation of his oath as a medical practitioner. He has a Hippocratic oath. We expect the NBI to dig deeper into this,” Tolentino said.
Salilig’s father, Jeoffrey, who also attended the hearing, said that he knew that his 24-year-old son was already missing when he failed to contact him after the victim attended the fraternity’s welcoming rites.
He added that he was in their house in Zamboanga City when one of his two sons, who had sought police assistance in locating their missing brother, informed him on the night of Feb. 27 that Salilig was “already dead, but his body could not be found.”
“It’s very painful for me as a father to lose my son this way,” Jeoffrey said.
He told reporters after the Senate hearing that those involved in hazing should face the death penalty, which had been abolished in the Philippines in 2006, to stop fraternity-related violence once and for all.
“But I’m leaving it up to our legislators,” Jeoffrey said, adding that their family was satisfied with how the Senate and law enforcement agencies had been handling his son’s hazing death.
The naked and battered body of Salilig was found in a shallow grave in Imus, Cavite province, on Feb. 28—10 days after he went missing while attending the fraternity’s initiation rites. An autopsy report showed that he died due to “severe blunt force trauma to the lower extremities.”
A witness earlier told the police that the victim had been beaten at least 70 times.
Salilig was laid to rest in Zamboanga City on March 4. Nine days later, Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors indicted seven Tau Gamma members for his death and for the injuries suffered by Roi Osmond dela Cruz, a neophyte who was also hazed.
Indicted before the Biñan City Regional Trial Court for violating the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 were Earl Anthony Osita Romero, Tung Cheng Benitez Ten, Jerome Ochoco Balot, Sandro Dasalla Victorino, Michael Lambert Alcazar Ricalde, Mark Muñoz Pedrosa and Daniel delos Reyes Perry.
“In finding probable cause against the respondents, the panel explained… that all of the abovementioned respondents planned and actually participated in hazing the recruits by way of paddling,” the DOJ said.
Apart from the seven respondents, 12 other fraternity members are facing two new complaints filed by Salilig’s brother, Dela Cruz and two others present at the welcoming rites. DOJ prosecutors, however, have yet to conduct a preliminary investigation in connection with the new complaints.
—WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH
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