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Incidences of Hazing in the Phl

August 6, 2012

Privilege Speech
Incidences of Hazing in the Phl
Senate Session Hall
August 06, 2012

Mr. President,

I rise on a matter of personal privilege to express indignation over the recent death of Mark Andre Marcos, a law student whose bright future was cut short by a tradition of violence that has laid claim to many lives, and will continue to do so unless we take concerted action.

It is truly disturbing that this tragedy came at the heels of the death of another San Beda Law student. Just five months ago, freshman Marvin Reglos died of kidney failure after being subjected to hazing at a fraternity’s initiation rites.

Their tragic, untimely deaths prove that hazing remains a serious problem in fraternities, sororities, and other organizations in the country.

It has become clear that Republic Act 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law, has not been effective in preventing abuses against neophytes or new recruits of organizations, particularly fraternities.

RA 8049 specifically provides that school authorities or the head of organization must be notified of any initiation rites seven days prior to the activity, which shall be witnessed by at least two representatives of the school or organization who must ensure that the activity would not involve any act of violence.

Whether or not this provision is being implemented, we will have to ask our school administrators and heads of organizations. But certainly, it is about time that we amend the law and impose not mere regulation of initiation rites but the prohibition of hazing and other activities that subject neophytes or new recruits of fraternities, sororities and organizations to physical and psychological harm.

We need to have the Commission on Higher Education at the forefront of engaging school administrators and leaders of fraternities, sororities and other organizations in a dialogue.

Careful research on effective administrative practices to regulate fraternities, sororities, and organizations should be conducted. Banning these student endeavors will only result in driving them underground, making it harder for them to be monitored. Alternatives should be sought and implemented immediately.

Instead of physical abuse, the system should engage neophytes of fraternities in civic works consistent with the organization’s ideals, such as community immersions, and develop in them the spirit of true leadership.

To the members of these fraternities, and even sororities and other organizations that practice hazing, most of us are the outsiders. We are the ‘others’ who will never understand these violent practices and why they believe that there is a need for them to take place. That is why we must be able to engage them in a discourse about these matters, and allow them to articulate their views and suggest solutions to the problem.

However, Mr. President,
While we recognize the need to prevent future casualties, we cannot let the deaths of Mark Andre Marcos, Marvin Reglos, and so many others to become mere statistics, filed away, to be recalled only when another death occurs. We must show the Filipino people that the perpetrators of these violent crimes will be held accountable.

Let us ensure, as a body, that the swift hand of justice will be brought down firmly upon those who murdered these young men. In the coming months, we must underscore the message that these acts of violence will not be tolerated.

We owe our next steps to the countless victims of hazing. Many of them, until now, have not received the justice they deserve. Let us remember Nor Silongan, a 16 year-old criminology student in Sultan Kudarat found dead in September 2011; Noel Borja, 17, who was found stuffed inside a plastic drum by the Pasig River in October 2010; EJ Karl Intia, whose bruised body was retrieved from a ravine in Laguna in August 2010; and Menardo Clamucha Jr., a sophomore, found dead in July that same year. Let us remember Lenny Villa, murdered 21 years ago, who saw justice through a Supreme Court ruling just last February. And let us remember Dr. Francis Edward C. Custodio, an incoming first year resident of the Philippine Orthopedic Center, who died in July 2006 after being hazed at the welcome rites of the Association of Medical Staff held inside the very premises of the Philippine Orthopedic Center. Certainly, tradition and brotherhood cannot justify hazing, and there is nothing that can justify cutting short the lives of so many promising individuals.

I reiterate that there is a need to revisit the current policy of regulation under the Anti-Hazing Law given its failure to deter violence and the apparent audacity by which these fraternities and sororities and their officers and members perpetrate violence without regard to the existing mandate of the law.

We are called upon by the Filipino people to act on these tragedies. Let us advocate heightened awareness and participation among all stakeholders, and reestablish accountability among fraternities, sororities, organizations, and administrators of universities and colleges alike. Let us do everything in our power to ensure that not even one more hazing death will happen in this country.

Thank you, Mr. President.