SEVERAL senators expressed support for a measure that seeks to ban all forms of hazing following the death of 22-year-old University of Santo Tomas (UST) freshman law student Horacio Castillo III last September 17.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that he will support a total ban on any form of hazing. He admitted that he himself underwent hazing when he joined a fraternity more than 50 years ago.
For his part, Sen. Miguel Zubiri, who also went through hazing, called for an end to the practice of violent initiation rites.
“A lot of senators have gone through hazing, including myself. As my organization in UPLB (University of the Philippines Los Baños) would do paddling as their initiation rites in the eighties. At that time there were no laws governing initiations or fraternities,” said Zubiri.
The senator added that his colleagues in the Senate will surely support measures strengthening the anti-hazing law, which will prohibit all forms of physical, mental and psychological violence on a fraternity or sorority recruit.
Sen. Grace Poe also expressed confidence that her fratmen-colleagues will condemn the “barbarity and senselessness” of hazing rites.
“I am confident that these fratmen-senators, who are now themselves parents or grandparents to young children, acknowledge the barbarity and senselessness of inflicting severe pain, at the risk of death, on innocent students just to gain membership or recognition in an organization,” Poe said.
She added, “The only sensible course of action for them, for all of us, is to make sure that Atio’s death will be the last with the strict implementation of the hazing law and the necessary introduction of amendments to give it more teeth.”
In fact, Poe said that the senators agree to introducing amendments to the existing hazing laws to make sure that Castillo’s case will be the last.
Sen. Bam Aquino likewise believes that the senators are united in amending the anti-hazing law.
“These senseless and needless deaths must be stopped and no other young life should be wasted on this barbaric, cruel and heartless practice. I predict that no party or background or even previous experiences with hazing will derail our working in unison to put an end to this,” Aquino said.
Not bad per se
Sen. Risa Hontiveros meanwhile called on school administrations to eliminate hazing and other forms of violence and abuse in fraternities.
Hontiveros said that schools should be pro-active in investigating and addressing “under the radar” cases of violence before they escalate into an incidents of serious injury or even death of a student.
She also urged schools to be on the lookout for cases of fraternity-related sexual assault or harassment.
Hontiveros also called on schools to recognize all legitimate fraternities so they can be easily subjected to school regulations and “remove the shroud of secrecy surrounding their initiation rites.”
Hontiveros noted fraternities need not be bad per se as they are established to promote the principles of excellence, leadership, friendship and service.
“In fact, the revolutionary Katipunan was organized along fraternal lines. What we need to eliminate is the culture of violence, abuse andimpunity that is embedded in many fraternities,” Hontiveros explained.
The senator favors amending the country’s Anti-hazing Law with a total ban on all forms of hazing.
“The letter and spirit of the existing law doesn’t explicitly ban hazing. It is wishy-washy on the said practice. In fact, it recognizes the violent practice as long as the organization performing the hazing rites has sent a written notice to the school administration,” Hontiveros said.