By Kuhlin Ceslie Gacula
A number of deaths had been blamed on hazing in the Philippines since 1954.
A party-list lawmaker, Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, welcomed yesterday President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of a new Anti-Hazing Law, saying the measure “can save more lives, the lives of our youth.”
The chair of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality, Herrera-Dy, nonetheless, expressed hope that the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 11053 will be immediately approved.
“We are especially concerned about the gangs that are similar to fraternities in every aspect. Gangs that operate on campus and off-campus in the neighborhoods and barangays,” said Herrera-Dy.
President Duterte signed RA 11053 to prohibit all forms of hazing by amending a 22-year-old law that merely regulated the conduct of hazing.
RA 11053 is a consolidation of Senate Bill 1662 and House Bill 6573.
Under the new law, hazing resulting to death, rape, sodomy and mutilation will be punishable with life imprisonment and P3 million in fines if direct involvement is proven.
“There are gangs and fraternities that behave like criminal syndicates because of their code of silence and use of violence in the enforcement of discipline and their distorted principles of brotherhood,” added Herrera-Dy.
The lawmaker lamented that some fraternities and gangs have become incubators and “breeding ground for criminal masterminds and thugs who prey on the weak, the poor, and the defenseless.”
She said campus authorities and barangay officials should enforce RA 11053 strictly “but also with due lawful regard for human rights and privacy.”
“We want prevention, monitoring, enforcement, and assessment measures that are transparent, specific, and clear,” said Herrera-Dy.
The new anti-hazing measure increases the penalties, including for those who do not carry out the act of hazing but are present during the rites.
Official members of any organization conducting hazing activity will be facing reclusion temporal and a million peso fine.
Any university involved in this kind of initiation will also pay one million pesos as fine.
A number of deaths had been blamed on hazing in the Philippines since 1954, when the first “hazing victim” was reported, that of Gonzalo Mariano Albert, a neophyte of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity.
However, Albert’s demise was ultimately traced to an acute case of “appendicitis” and not due to hazing.
A committee formed by then President Ramon Magsaysay investigated the death of Albert.
Nine other hazing “deaths” were recorded up until 1995 when Republic Act 8049 or the original Anti-Hazing Law was passed following the death in 1991 of Lenny Villa of the Aquila Legis fraternity.
The first and probably the only conviction under RA 8049 was the case of UP Los Baños student Marlon Villanueva in 2006 during which two members of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity were sentenced to life in prison only in 2015.