Bill bans any form of fraternity hazing in and out of schools, expands school liability
The bill would repeal the 1995 law and expand the responsibility of schools in the crime, said Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who named his proposed “Servando Act” after Guillo Cesar Servando, a De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde student killed in fraternity initiation rites.
“The ‘Servando Act’ expressly prohibits hazing at whatever stage of the initiation involving fraternities, sororities or any organization such as the ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) and those that are not school-based,” he said.
The bill further expands the liability of schools and their administrators who may be found to be negligent in enforcing the law, according to Gatchalian, a majority member of the House committee on higher and technical education.
Under the proposed law, the consent of a neophyte to undergo hazing may not be used as a defense. Stricter penalties and new aggravating circumstances have also been added to the existing law.
Despite its name, the Anti-Hazing Law, or Republic Act 8049, actually allows hazing activities under certain conditions, such as a written notice to school authorities a week before it is to be held, and the presence of two school representatives during the initiation.
Penalties meted out to offenders range from life imprisonment to a maximum of four years in prison, depending on their level of participation in the crime.
Gatchalian’s bill, on the other hand, imposes much stricter penalties: at least 12 years in prison and a P1 million fine for participating members; life imprisonment and a P2 million fine for participating members found to be under the influence of drug or alcohol; and life imprisonment and a P3 million fine for those who actually participated in the hazing that resulted in death, rape, sodomy or mutilation of the victim.
A fine of P1 million shall also be imposed on the school if it is found to have approved the hazing, or if no school representatives are found to have been present during the initiation rites.
School authorities who consent or have actual knowledge of the hazing but failed to take action shall be charged as accomplices, according to the bill.
But Gatchalian’s bill does not outlaw the existence of fraternities and sororities, as it recognizes the freedom of association under the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution.
The bill further differentiates between hazing and “initiation rites,” stipulating that the latter may be allowed “provided that it does not inflict any direct or indirect physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury to the prospective member.”
In an interview after he filed the bill, Gatchalian, who is not a member of any fraternity, said he had spoken with other congressmen belonging to fraternities who told him that they supported the bill and believed that the “culture of hazing” in fraternities and sororities must stop.
He said he expected a healthy debate on the proposed measure, considering that several members of Congress belonged to Greek-letter groups.
Fraternities and sororities wield a large influence in Philippine politics, boasting of prominent members in the executive, judiciary and the legislative branches of government.
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