Student dead in hazing rites
MANILA, Philippines–The police have started looking into the case of an 18-year-old De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB) student who they believe died due to injuries he sustained in fraternity hazing rites.
The body of Guillo Cesar Servando, a sophomore student taking up Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management, was found by the police inside a unit at One Archer’s Place, a 31-story condominium at the corner of Taft Avenue and Castro Street in Manila, around 11 p.m. on Saturday.
With him were his three friends and schoolmates identified by the police as John Paul Raval, 18, the owner of the condo unit; Lorenze Agustin, 18; and a 17-year-old boy.
All four had hematomas (a mass of clotted blood which forms in a tissue, organ or body space due to a broken blood vessel) on their backs and thighs, according to PO2 Michael Maraggun of the Manila Police District (MPD) homicide division.
According to the police, Raval called the Philippine National Police Patrol 117 hotline after Servando lost consciousness inside his unit. A Red Cross team that was the first to arrive at the scene examined the victim and failed to detect signs of life.
The three other students were immediately taken to the Ospital ng Maynila but were later transferred to the Philippine General Hospital where they received treatment.
Based on interviews with the three survivors, the police learned that they and Servando applied for membership several weeks ago in the University of Sto. Tomas chapter of the Alpha Kappa Rho (AKRHO) fraternity.
Around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, the four neophytes met with a man who identified himself only as Aircon in front of a fast-food restaurant on Taft Avenue just beside De La Salle University.
Aircon, who was described by the victims as about 5’9” in height, around 20 years old, of medium build and with fair complexion, introduced himself as the secretary of the fraternity chapter.
Along with several companions, Aircon and the four victims got into a green Honda CRV where the latter were blindfolded before they were driven to an unknown location for their initiation rites.
The victims said that for three hours, the four of them were beaten up by around 15 individuals who used belts, paddles or their fists before they were driven back to Raval’s condominium unit by two men.
Salvador Balingit Jr., the condominium security officer on duty at that time, told the police that the victims and two other men arrived at the condominium around 9:30 p.m.
He noted that four of them were staggering as they approached the front desk so he notified them that it was their policy not to allow drunken visitors inside the premises. He relented, however, when Raval pleaded with him to let his companions stay in his unit for the night.
Balingit told the police that after about an hour, the two men who escorted the victims left. They were identified as w and Hans Tamaring based on the names they wrote down on the guest logbook.
Members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) who examined Servando said that although his injuries were not as severe compared to his companions who survived, these may have been aggravated by other conditions he was suffering from. The Soco team has yet to release its complete report on the incident.
Homicide investigators, on the other hand, said they were still trying to identify the area where the alleged hazing rites took place. When they approached the students a second time to ask more questions, the victims refused to talk upon the advice of a lawyer. The three survivors have yet to give their official statements to the police.
The MPD said it was trying to get a copy of the footage taken by a closed circuit television camera at the condominium building and the fast-food restaurant to possibly identify the two men who took the students home as well as the license plate of the CRV that picked the neophytes up.
In a statement, a DLS-CSB official said that the school would continue to fully cooperate with the police over the “deplorable incident.”
At the same time, Robin Serrano, vice chancellor for development and institutional relations, reiterated that the school was against fraternities and fraternity-related violence.
“This is a time of great sadness as De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde mourns the demise of one of our students and prays for the recovery of the other students who are also victims of a recent fraternity hazing incident,” he said.
He added that the school community [was sending] “its prayers to the students’ families and friends.”
“During this difficult time, Benilde responds with utmost respect and deference to all who are affected and enjoins everyone to respect the privacy of the families,” he said.–With Kristine Felisse Mangunay