Editorial: The problem with hazing-A A +A
Friday, August 3, 2012
THE death of San Beda law student Marc Andre Marcos during the initiation rites of Lex Leonum Fraternitas brings to mind the case of University of the Visayas student Frederick Cahiyang, who died in initiation rites conducted by members of the Alpha Phi Omega (Apo) fraternity two decades ago.
Cahiyang’s death happened in the same year (1991) Ateneo student Leonardo “Lenny” Villa was killed during initiation rites by members of the Aquila Legis fraternity.
The Lenny Villa case led to the passage of Republic Act No. 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law.
The avowed intention of the law, which became effective in 1995, was to discourage fraternities, sororities, organizations or associations from making hazing a requirement for membership. Marcos’s case showed its intention may not have been met fully.
But will amending the anti-hazing law help? This seems to be the view of some sectors who feel that RA 8049 needs to be strengthened.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III noted that the law shouldn’t just regulate hazing but ban it altogether. Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales termed it as criminalizing hazing.
This and other suggestions still need to be tackled in a public hearing on the matter that Sen. Gregorio Honasan is planning to call. In the meantime, it would be good to consider the aspect of prosecution, which is vital as deterrence to the practice of hazing.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan who, like Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, thinks that amending the anti-hazing law may no longer necessary, said it well. “Only when the law is applied swiftly and in full will students be deterred from disregarding the anti-hazing law. Otherwise, it will be hazing as usual,” he told reporters.
That, however, is better said than done considering the culture prevalent among fraternities in the country. In almost all fraternity-related deaths, prosecution has been hampered by the refusal of concerned fraternity members and leaders to cooperate with investigators.
Worse, fraternity alumni who are already in positions of power use their influence to prevent the truth from coming out.
Finding ways to break this Mafia-like practice of fraternities is an important component of any effort to provide deterrence to hazing.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 04, 2012.