Friday, July 18, 2014

Sotto pushes life imprisonment for hazing participants

MANILA-It is about time someone should be held accountable for the barbaric initiation rite that is hazing.

Senator Vicente C. Sotto III wants the life sentence imposed on any officers or members of fraternities or sororities that participate in any form of hazing, regardless of what happens to the victim or victims.
"This is a senseless brutal initiation rite that has claimed a number of young and promising lives. It is a barbaric act that has no place in modern society," Sotto said.

At present, the Anti-Hazing Law only imposes life imprisonment "if death, rape, sodomy and mutilation results there from" Graduated penalties are imposed depending on the circumstances and the condition of the victim.

But with the recent death of one more hazing victim, it is time to revisit the law and put more teeth into it.

In Senate Bill (SB) No. 97, the lawmaker seeks to amend  Section 4 of RA 8049, otherwise known as the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 which provides for graduated penalties for hazing.

Under Sotto’s proposed amendment, “any officers or members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm in a hazing or other form of initiation rites shall be liable as principals and shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.”

The proposed amendment in effect upgrades the penalty to life imprisonment of the participants regardless of what happens to the hazing victim.

"So many lives are still lost even despite the law. It is long overdue that we end this cycle of senseless violence," Sotto said. "How many promising lives, how many parents are still going to endure the pain of seeing their love ones die, or get maimed, in the hands of these barbarians?"

The latest victim of the fatal initiation rite was 18-year-old De La Salle College of St. Benilde student Guillo Servando. The senator has been helping the families of hazing victims like Marvin P. Reglos, 25, who died on February 19, 2012 and Marc Andre Marcos, 21, who died on July 30, 2012 both students of San Beda 

In his proposed measure, Sotto pointed out that RA 8049 was enacted to address the death and violence happening in fraternities, sororities and organizations.

Yet, "despite its enactment in 1995, there are still numerous reports of death and injuries in various parts of our country. It only shows that there is a need to strengthen the law, by providing a higher penalty" on hazing.

“While the Constitution mandates that a" educational institution shall teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, students on the other hand, shall have the duty and responsibility to promote and maintain the peace and tranquility of the school by observing the rules of discipline,” Sotto explained. 

“The State should not be proscribed from interfering with the social development of students, particularly when life is at stake.  The enactment of Republic Act No. 8049, otherwise known as an Anti-Hazing Law serves to address the rampant violence happening in various fraternities, sororities and organizations," Sotto pointed out.

The proposed amendment  also seeks to include  the imposition of maximum penalty a) when hazing or initiation rite is committed under the influence of illegal drugs or liquor; and 
b) when there is a presence of non-resident or alumni fraternity members during the hazing. 

Sotto asked the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs to set hearings for his proposed amendment, before lives are claimed by brutal initiation rites.  The bill has been referred to the committee since last year.  

"We have to stop this violence on our children. Our educational institutions should be beacons of hope, not of death. We cannot allow another death," Sotto stressed.


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