OFFICIALS of the city-run University of Makati (Umak) may be held liable in the death of one of their students if proven that they have knowledge on the hazing incident.

This is aside from the officials of the fraternity involved even if they are not present during the actual conduct of the hazing rites, said Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Executive Director Julito Vitriolo.

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Vitriolo said it is incumbent upon colleges and universities to strictly enforce the provision of Republic Act 8049 (RA) or the Anti-Hazing Law.

"Dapat mahigpit na ipatupad ng mga kolehiyo at unibersidad ang batas banning hazing sa mga campuses. Pag nalabag ang batas maaaring maging liable ang mga officers at actual na nagsasagawa ng hazing," Vitriolo said.

Under the Anti-Hazing Law (Section 4), "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".

On the other hand, fraternity officers and members who actually participated in the hazing, especially if the person subjected to such an act suffers any physical injury or dies as a result may be held liable as principals.

Even the officers, former officers or alumni of the fraternity who actually planned the hazing although not present when the acts constituting the hazing were committed can also be held as principal under the law.

Authorities have already filed charges before the Makati City Prosecutors Office against five of the suspects who gave themselves in last week after the discovery of the lifeless body of EJ Karl Intia in a ravine in Sta. Maria town, Laguna following a hazing allegedly by members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity.

Makati police chief Froilan Bonifacio identified the suspects as John Marin and Michael Pagulayan, both 19 years old; Rosel Wenceslao, 18, all students of UMak; and Rico Mansalapus, 31, an alumnus of the school.

The identity of the fifth suspect was withheld because he is a minor.

Umak President Tomas Lopez earlier said that fraternities are banned in the school adding that they even require all freshman students to sign a contract stating that they are not allowed to join organizations, fraternities included, not authorized by the school management.

But he admitted that the school cannot control the activities of their students outside the campus. (AH/Sunnex)