Hazing still exists in fraternities despite prominent media coverage of deaths of neophytes who sought admittance to these exclusive organizations. The long-standing tradition is said to never die.
| Behind the scenes (re-enactment)
The recent killing in an alleged hazing incident of 25-year old Marvin Reglos, a San Beda College freshman law student who wanted to join the Lambda Rho Beta Fraternity, shows just how prevalent hazing rituals are in brotherhoods. In this episode, Gus Abelgas went up against the perpetuating culture of violence in fraternities in the country.
“We should not forget that hazing is a crime that needs to be stopped. People who promote and perform this brutal activity should take responsibility for their actions,” Gus said.
A neophyte’s story
Gus uncovered the horrifying initiation experience of a former neophyte. “John” was 21 years old when he thought of joining a prestigious fraternity in their university. Others told him that the said fraternity is not just like any other, for it upholds principles. With that in mind, John went to the house of one of the frat members to submit himself into the initiation rites.
Three other neophytes came with him and experienced being paddled by 20 members of the fraternity. They were also hit on their shoulders and kicked on their legs.
He said that the beating only stopped when the fraternity president saw him excruciating pain. His body ached all over. He could no longer talk at that time.
John was still able to go home but he was rushed to the hospital the following day due to kidney failure. He had to go through dialysis and bed rest. It took him ten days to fully recover but was still advised not to engage in any kind of physical activity at that time because of high blood pressure.
Dr. Gary Canlas, General Medicine and Psychiatry expert and a member of the Beta Sigma fraternity, says that more than physical pain, injuries and severe shock can cause stress and mental anguish.
Practiced by generations of fraternity members, hazing has become an essential part of initiation for applicants.
According to Filomin Gutierrez, Associate Professor of Sociology in University of the Philippines—Diliman, the purpose of hazing in fraternities is to test the neophyte’s determination to join and loyalty to the group. She believes that the intention to seriously injure or kill was never there. Neophytes primarily join for identification and belonging.
The true nature of fraternities is good; that is to uphold brotherhood. However, initiation rites have been going too far, resulting to crimes.
Anti-Hazing Law of 1995
The death of Lenny Villa in the hands of Aquila Legis in 1991 prompted the drafting of an anti-hazing act. It was approved four years later under the Ramos Administration. The Republic Act 8049 or Anti-Hazing Law ‘regulates hazing and other forms of initiation rites in fraternities, sororities and other organizations and providing penalties therefor’.
It includes the issuance of a prior written notice to the school authorities or head of organization seven days before conduct of initiation. If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury as a result, the officers and members who participated shall be liable and shall suffer to reclusion temporal. If the person dies, the penalty is reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment).
Gus interviewed Atty. Joey Lina, author of the Anti-Hazing Law or R.A. 8049.
“With the Anti-Hazing Law, it is easier to prevent the conspiracy of silence which is the standard being used by fraternities which conduct hazing,” Lina says.
Senator Vicente Sotto III, an anti-hazing advocate, believes that the law enforcement is not strong enough.
“Life imprisonment should automatically be given to all those involved, including accomplices. There is no need for the person to break his arms or legs. No one needs to die to penalize them that much.”
Sen. Sotto also adds that initiation should be beneficial and purposive to the community.
Such motion is supported by Student-led Anti-Hazing Watch Alliance (SAWA) of University of the Philippines—Diliman and Solidarity Against Hazing and Vioence in Campus formed by Atty. Lina.
March 15, 2012