ON Feb. 10, 1991, two days after undergoing initiation rites in the hands of his Aquila Legis fraternity brothers, 22-year old Ateneo Law School student Leny Villa passed away.
The tragic death of Leny Villa led to the birth of the Anti-Hazing law in 1995. Yet, according to CNN Philippines, in the last 22 years since the Anti-Hazing Law was passed, there have been 18 deaths, 393 suspects and just 1 conviction.
Many cases don’t prosper due to lack of witnesses or due to complainants withdrawing charges. Perhaps, the odds are stacked up against the complainants. How does one really expect to win a conviction amongst a judiciary replete with brothers?
But let’s take a look at Congress too. How many of our legislators are fraternity members? Is this why our Anti-Hazing law remains spineless? How effective can it be, after all, when it doesn’t actually ban hazing outright?
Why does hazing still exist today? Why do young men continue to die of hazing?
Could it be because some of the people who sit in the most crucial positions in the country, the foremost leaders of our nation as well as our academic institutions—those who truly have the power to change things and to stop the killings—have, at one time in their lives, been perpetrators of hazing?
Why have so many stayed silent? The silence is not about cowardice or even indifference. It’s about something worse—it’s about shared guilt. Hence, the inaction, the lack of political will to ban the barbaric practice in all academic institutions and to legislate it out of existence.
The body of 22-year old University of Santo Tomas Law freshman, Horacio “Atio” Castillo III was found last September 17, wrapped in a blanket, dumped in the sidewalk. His grief-stricken parents believe he died of injuries sustained from hazing at an Aegis Juris fraternity welcome party.
Why do men—young, intelligent and godly, parcel off their minds, souls and bodies to gain admission to fraternities? Why sacrifice your “self” to be part of a herd?
Why do men—young, intelligent and godly, beat their brothers to death? Is it because they believe that partaking in such a brutal activity cements their bonds as brothers? Is it because they believe such extreme initiation rites successfully weeds out the weak? Is it because they believe undergoing such inhumane rituals produces better men?
Hazing is not a rite of manhood. Hazing is a crime against humanity. Those who humiliate, degrade and injure, those who mutilate, maim and murder—these are not men of honor. These are men who have sold their souls to the Devil.
Becoming a beast doesn’t make one, a better man, or a man, at all. But sometimes, one is so consumed with proving one’s manhood, he loses sight of his humanity.
If you want to be a man, find the courage to be a human being first.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 01, 2017.
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