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Senator says Anti-Hazing Law allows hazing, must be overhauled

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday pushed for a "simplified" version of the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 following the death of University of Santo Tomas law student Horacio Castillo III.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 199  in 2016 but the measure has yet to be deliberated on.

Instead of castigating fraternities, sororities, or organizations involved in the death of new recruits, Gatchalian's bill prohibits hazing per se, or the very act of hazing itself.

The bill only allows initiation methods that do not inflict direct or indirect physical or psychological injury on neophytes.

“Itong bagong proposal ay sinimplehan [pa lalo] natin. Kung ikaw ay gumawa ng hazing, paparusahan ka at ikukulong,” Gatchalian told Arnold Clavio in an interview on Unang Balita.

Perpetrators of hazing who cause death, rape, sodomy or mutilation will face life imprisonment and a fine of P3,000,000 under the new bill. Hazing under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol has a corresponding punishment of life imprisonment and a fine of P2,000,000.

The school which consented to the initiation rites but failed to send representatives to the activity will be fined P1,000,000.

Gatchalian's proposal also underlines the importance of the role of the educational institution, calling for the implementation of an information dissemination campaign regarding the “consequences of conducting and participating in hazing” at the start of each school term.

The bill was filed on June 30 last year and has been awaiting deliberation before the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs since Aug. 1, 2016.

“Actually, hindi siya anti-hazing law,” Gatchalian said of the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995. “'Pag binasa mong mabuti yung batas, pinapayagan ang hazing; ang ipinagbabawal ay iyong pagkamatay.”

He called the 1995 law a “regulatory” law, a claim which agrees with the law’s official title: “An act regulating hazing and other forms of initiation rites in fraternities, sororities, and other organizations and providing penalties therefor”.

According to the existing law, death, rape, sodomy or mutilation resulting from hazing are punishable by life imprisonment.

The senator also lamented the ineffectiveness of the 1995 law, citing the lack of convictions since it was enacted.

“Wala naman pong problema sa pagsasali sa grupo, pagsasali sa organisayson, pagsasali sa fraternity, wala namang problema dyan,” Gatchalian told Clavio. “Ang ayaw natin dyan, yung violence, yung karahasan na nangyayari, yung hazing.”

Talks of amending anti-hazing policy were once again brought into focus after the death of Castillo, whose body was found bruised and covered in candle wax drip marks after undergoing initiation rites by the Aegis Juris Fraternity, a university-recognized organization. —Nicole-Anne Lagrimas/ALG/KVD, GMA News