(Updated 5:10 p.m.) Lawmakers on Tuesday called on the House of Representatives to immediately tackle amendments to the country’s seven-year-old law against hazing after another law student died allegedly due to a violent hazing ritual.
Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said hazing should be totally banned in the country, and not just regulated under Republic Act 8049
or the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995.
“Kapag kasi regulation, some sort of hazing is being tolerated. Hindi dapat regulation lang. We should say no to all forms of hazing,” Dy said in a phone interview.
Herrera-Dy renewed her call to review the country’s anti-hazing law after 22-year-old Marc Andre Marcos, a freshman student from the San Beda College of Law, died
last night after supposedly undergoing violent initiation rites in Cavite.
Andrei's family members believe he was undergoing initiation rites by the Lex Leonum fraternity composed of San Beda law students.
Herrera-Dy, who admitted to being a member of a sorority, filed House Bill 6084 last April to amend the existing anti-hazing law.
The measure expands the definition of hazing to include fraternities and sororities in the Philippine Military Academy and the Philippine National Police. The bill also seeks to recognize “psychological suffering” as a form of hazing.
Under the existing anti-hazing law, a person found guilty of hazing shall face a punishment ranging from life imprisonment to prison correctional (four-year imprisonment).
For his part, AKO BICOL party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe said amendments to R.A. 8049 will facilitate the prosecution of offenders.
“I urge Congress to immediately enact this remedial legislation to eliminate hazing once and for all in our society. Let us not wait for another victim to die in order for us to act,” Batocabe said in a separate text message.
Batocabe filed a separate measure, House Bill 5912, last March proposing changes to the existing anti-hazing law.
Under his proposed measure, intoxication and the presence of non-resident or alumni fraternity members during the hazing incident are considered to be circumstances which will increase penalties for persons found guilty of hazing.
Batocabe’s bill is actually a response to a proposal made by Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to include these “aggravating circumstances” under the current law.
Sereno penned the high court decision
finding five members of the Aquila Legis fraternity guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide for the death of Lenny Villa in February 1991.
Both bills filed by Batocabe and Herrera-Dy have been pending before the House committee on revision of laws for months now. The measures have not been tackled in a single committee hearing since they were filed. Senators' views
In the Senate, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the case of Marcos underscores the need to strengthen Republic Act 8049, which regulates hazing and other forms of initiation rites in fraternities, sororities, and other organizations.
"Matitigas ang ulo eh, therefore, tigasan din natin ang batas. Tingin ko kasi malambot [ang batas natin], kaya itong aking proposal, nananawagan tayo sa mga committee na nagha-handle nito na apurahin," Sotto said.
There are at least three pending bills before the Senate regarding hazing. One of them is authored by Sotto and the other two by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Under Sotto's Senate Bill 3131, anybody involved in hazing shall be liable as principals of the crime and shall be punished with lifetime imprisonment.
"Pinalalakas natin, pinatitibay natin ang parusa at pinalalakas natin ang batas sa pamamagitan ng pagsasama ng lahat ng involved pati ‘yung mga officials para ‘yung mga official mismo sila na ang pipigil dun sa mga kasama nila o ka-frat nila," said Sotto.
But Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said there was no need to amend the law.
"Hindi na kailangan ng batas ‘yan. Law enforcement dyan, kulungin. Isakdal at parusahan kung kailangan. Kung murder, murder. Kung homicide, homicide," Enrile said in a separate interview. — with Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ, GMA News