Diverting fraternities away from violence to social devt
(First of a series)
WITH no family, relatives or friends in Cebu City, 21-year-old civil engineering student Timothy (not his real name) decided to join a fraternity.
“When I became a member of the group, I found people in whom I take refuge. If somebody beats me up outside the school, at least I have companions to run to,” said Timothy, a native of Carcar City, southern Cebu.
A circular burn scar on his right wrist marks him as a full-pledged member of the Alpha Kappa Rho (Akrho) fraternity.
Leaders of the group placed a heated one peso coin on Timothy’s wrist, one of several rituals an applicant must undergo to be admitted to the organization.
An initiate or recruit also has to endure 150 blows from paddle-wielding fraternity members.
Last June 9, police arrested two men for hazing two young persons inside a house in barangay Pardo, Cebu City.
Stephen Ocampo and Rommel Ybañez were placed under police custody for violating Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law.
The 30-year-old Ocampo was identified as the chapter president of Alpha Kappa Rho fraternity.
The two suspects were eventually released before the 12-hour reglementary period for detention after no charges were filed against them.
The victims aged 25 and 30 were reportedly unwilling to file a complaint reasoning that they voluntarily joined the hazing rites.
A concerned citizen called the attention of policemen after hearing howls of pain and struggles inside Ocampo’s residence.
When the police arrived, they arrested the two suspects and brought the two victims to the station for questioning.
Other members of the fraternity dispersed on sensing the arrival of the law enforcers.
Police recovered a 30-inch long wooden paddle bearing the logo of Alpha Kappa Rho fraternity on the handle.
The paddle was believed to be used to hit the victims whose buttocks and thighs were swollen.
Acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale said the local government is trying to divert the attention of fraternity members from violence to becoming productive individuals.
She said the Cebu provincial government, for one, has started training members of different fraternity groups in Toledo City, west of Cebu, to be part of various disaster preparedness programs in the locality.
“We give importance to them. I know fraternity members are just hungry for recognition. We’re doing something to harness their talents and energy as young people,” Magpale said.
The acting governor said if the experiment in Toledo City will succeed, they will replicate it in other towns and cities.
“I hope members of fraternities will become responsible citizens of the country. There are so much ahead of our young people. I hope they will realize that they won’t get anything from violence,” Magpale said. (to be continued)
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