FIVE suspects in the fatal hazing of a student at the city-run University of Makati (Umak) voluntarily turned themselves in and are now in the custody of the Makati police, said city police chief Froilan Bonifacio.

Though he refused to name the suspects linked to the death of EJ Karl Intia last weekend, Bonifacio said they are coordinating with their counterparts from Laguna to identify the rest of the suspects.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

“They have voluntarily surrendered to us,” Bonifacio said, adding that the hunt for the other suspects is still ongoing.

Police sources said one of the five suspects was a minor, age 17.

Initial police reports said 15 to 20 persons participated in the hazing of Intia whose lifeless body was found dumped in a ravine in Laguna last Sunday by the authorities after he was reported missing for several days.

Intia died during hazing rites conducted by the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity that counts as prominent alumnus former Makati mayor now Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Binay has already extended his condolences to Intia’s family and condemned the victim's death.

“The Vice President is outraged by the circumstances surrounding the death of Intia. He condemns this inhuman and violent act, and will not tolerate any injustice to go unpunished,” a statement from Binay’s office said.

Earlier, Oscar Intia, the victim's father, challenged Binay to bring justice to his son's death especially that the Vice President is a member of the fraternity.

Bonifacio, who is also an APO alumnus, has inhibited himself from the case leaving it to the criminal investigation and detection group to spearhead the manhunt.

In a related development, criticism against Intia’s death and of the APO fraternity was mounted Saturday with some tapping the Internet to air their condolences, opinion and calls for justice.

The victim’s friends, classmates, and supporters have brought their cause to the popular Internet social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

“Katapangan ba yong pinakita nyo mga APO? Hinayaan nyo lng yung cousin ko ..tinapon nyo pa," EJ Karl’s cousin Jet Sultan said in his Facebook message.

Another message from a certain Jean Castro called on the perpetrators to surrender to give justice to EJ Karl and his family.

EJ Karl, who is taking up Building and Wiring Management course at Umak, according to his friends is also a Facebook fanatic, even managing to post his last message at the networking site on August 11 with the words “Mind Over Matter…Never Quit”. He was reported missing after leaving their residence last August 14.

Hands-off stance

Claiming the solution lies not with it but with school authorities, parents and students and even fraternities, Malacañang adopted a hands-off stance on the problem.

Presidential Communications Development Strategic and Planning Secretary Ramon “Ricky” Carandang admitted that the Palace cannot stop hazing with an executive order or a directive.

“Not everything can be solved with a directive from Malacañang. The effective solution I see here is to have students, teachers, fraternities, and parents to tackle the problem,” Carandang said on government-run dzRB radio Saturday.

The Palace, he added, is aware that the problem has been going on for a long time. “We don’t want to interfere too much in those matters. I think schools themselves have to take steps along with parents and students themselves to decide what to do.”

The fatal hazing of EJ Karl occurred despite Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law that was passed in 1995 that covers even the police, military, and the Philippine Military Academy.

Under the law, officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals.

Also, responsible officials of the school or of the police, military or citizen's army training organization may impose the appropriate administrative sanctions on those charged.

The owner of the place where the hazing is conducted shall be liable too as an accomplice, when he or she has actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring.

If the hazing is held in the home of one of the officers or members of the fraternity, group, or organization, the parents shall be held liable as principals when they have actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring.

Under the same law, school authorities including faculty members who consent to the hazing or who have actual knowledge thereof, but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring shall be punished as accomplices for the acts of hazing committed by the perpetrators.

Investigation opened

The city-run Umak said based on their investigation, several suspects responsible for the death of EJ Karl could be his own classmates.

Umak President Tomas Lopez said they are checking reports on this matter in coordination with the authorities even as he reiterated that fraternities are banned in the university.

“We are checking information that some of the people responsible for his (Intia’s) death were his classmates,” Lopez said, adding that the school wants a swift resolution to the case to ensure justice for the victim and his grieving family.

This as Lopez further said they are looking into reports that a number of Umak students who have skipped classes in the last few days could be involved in EJ Karl’s death.

Lopez said some of the students have been absent from class and have not even gone home since Monday, the day after EJ Karl’s lifeless body was found.

He added that they are still verifying the report and could not yet say for certain if this was related to the case. (AH/JMR/Sunnex)