House panel approves life imprisonment, stiffer penalties vs hazing
A bill seeking stricter penalties on hazing which may be punishable with life imprisonment hurdled the House of Representatives’ justice committee on Wednesday.
The panel approved House Bill 3467 which revised the old anti-hazing law and provided stricter penalties to stamp out the practice of hazing rites in student and community organizations including sororities and fraternities.
The committee approved the amendment to the penal provisions to impose a 20 years to life imprisonment, for those involved in deadly hazing rites that result in death, mutilation, sodomy, rape and serious psychological effects.
The bill also imposes a P1-million penalty.
The author, Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said her bill initially wanted 20 years to 40 years for hazing.
In an interview after the approval, Herrera-Dy said even though the penal provisions were increased, it would still be up to the court’s discretion to punish members who may also be students with a future.
“We’re also punishing students who made a mistake. Pwede pa silang magbago (They can still change). Hindi naman (It’s not) premeditated or intentional murder,” Herrera-Dy said.
But the committee thumbed down Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque’s move to totally declare fraternities and sororities illegal.
“You can’t stop the existence of an organization just because it made a mistake,” Herrera-Dy, a member of the UP Delta Lambda Sigma sorority, later said.
“There are a lot of fraternities, sororities and organizations that exist (that) actually produced responsible citizens of our country. So hindi po pwede nating sabihin na porke’t may isang fraternity or sorority na nagkamali, lahat na ng fraternities at sororities may pagkakamali,” she added.
The committee approval of the new bill follows the death of University of Sto Tomas law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III due to hazing.
The approval came just a day after it was approved by the prosecutorial reforms subcommittee paves the way for the bill to be tackled in the plenary for second reading.
While the old hazing law seeks to regulate hazing, this new measure seeks to prohibit the rite entirely, Herrera-Dy earlier said.
Herrera-Dy said the bill seeks to expand the prohibition on physical and psychological injuries to include community organizations.
The bill also requires these organizations to register with schools or local government units, and for the groups to be supervised by a faculty adviser.
A member’s consent to the hazing rite also does not exonerate the perpetrator from liability, the author said. /idl
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