Senate body asked to set hearing on hazing bill

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 21 2014 09:10 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2014 05:10 PM

MANILA - Sen. Vicente Sotto III reiterated yesterday his call for the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Grace Poe to set public hearings on his proposal to impose life imprisonment for members of fraternities and sororities that engage in violent hazing activities.

Sotto noted that Senate Bill 97, which he filed, has been gathering dust at the Senate since it was referred to the committee 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 said, barely a few weeks after the brutal death of 18-year-old De La Salle-College of St. Benilde student Guillo Servando.

Sotto lamented the hazing-related deaths that wasted the lives of many young and promising individuals.

The senator has been helping the families of hazing victims like Marvin Reglos, 25, who died on Feb. 19, 2012 and Marc Andre Marcos, 21, who died on July 30, 2012. Both were students of San Beda College.

Sotto is pushing for the revision of the Anti-Hazing Law in a bid to impose the life sentence on officers or members of fraternities or sororities that participate in any form of hazing.

“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” occur during initiation rites.

Graduated penalties are imposed depending on the circumstances and the condition of the victim.

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

Sotto filed SB 97 in a bid to amend Section 4 of Republic Act 8049, otherwise known as the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995.

Under Sotto’s proposal, any officer or member 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 amendment in effect upgrades the penalty to life imprisonment of the participants regardless of what happens to the hazing victim.

Under SB 97, Sotto pointed out that RA 8049 was enacted to address the death and violence happening in fraternities, sororities and organizations.

Despite the law’s enactment in 1995, Sotto noted there were still numerous reports of death and injuries due to hazing activities.

He said the increasing statistics only show that there is a need to strengthen the law by providing a higher penalty on hazing.