MANILA - The Senate approved on Monday, on third and final reading, a bill that seeks to completely ban hazing as a pre-requisite for admission in a fraternity, sorority or organization.
Senate Bill No. 1662, or the act amending Republic Act No. 8049 to strengthen the law on hazing and regulate other forms of initiation rites of fraternities, sororities and other organizations, was approved with 19 affirmative votes.
"Instead of regulating hazing, it will completely prohibit all forms of hazing, once and for all," Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said.
The bill defines hazing as any physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, member, neophyte or applicant for admission or continuing membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier said the measure expands the coverage of hazing to include paddling, whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of food, liquor, beverage, drug and other substance as well as any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which would likely affect the physical and psychological health of the recruit, member, neophyte or applicant.
Senator Miguel Zubiri, member of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said the new measure will no longer have gray areas in defining "hazing."
"The beautiful part, schools now have penalties: if they don't get stricter, they can now be penalized under this law," he told ANC's Headstart.
Under the bill, officers and members of a fraternity, sorority or organization who participate in hazing will suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal and fined P1 million.
On the other hand, members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who participate in the hazing under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs will be fined P2 million and suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The same penalty will be imposed on non-resident or alumni members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the hazing, the bill states.
The penalty of reclusion perpetua, plus a fine of P3 million, will be imposed on persons who actually participated in hazing if the same results in death, rape, sodomy or mutilation.
The school would also be held liable if officials fail to prevent hazing from occurring during initiation rites. It will be fined P1 million, according to the bill.
Under the bill, the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period will be imposed on any person who will intimidate, threaten, force or employ or administer any form of vexation against another person for the purpose of recruitment in joining or promoting a particular fraternity, sorority or organization. A persistent and repeated invitation made to a person who had twice refused to participate will be considered as vexation.
The owner of the place where hazing is conducted will be held liable as an accomplice. School authorities, including faculty members who consented to the hazing or had actual knowledge of it, as well as barangay, municipal or city officials will also be held liable as an accomplice and be administratively charged.
Former officers, non-resident members or alumni of the fraternity who will hide, conceal, hamper or obstruct any investigation would face imprisonment of four to six years and fined P1 million. They will also be subjected to disciplinary proceedings by the Supreme Court or by their respective professional boards. Incumbent officers of the fraternity, sorority or organization will be held jointly liable with those members who actually participated in the hazing, the bill says.
Lastly, the judgement of final conviction of a person convicted of the crime of hazing will be reflected in his scholastic record, personal or employment record, the bill says.
In his amendment, Senator Richard Gordon proposed that the suspension or revocation of the professional license be not more than three years. The license as a member of their respective professional boards may be reinstated upon submission of affidavits from at least three disinterested persons, good moral certifications from different unaffiliated and credible government, religious and social-civic organizations showing that they had become morally fit for readmission into the profession.
The House of Representatives last month also passed on final reading a measure that does not only regulate hazing but prohibits such activities in all its forms.
In the Senate version, all members of fraternities and sororities are required to register their membership with their respective schools, and the school must ensure that lists of memberships are updated and that each registered fraternity and sorority has a faculty adviser.
Barangay officials are also mandated to register all community organizations within their areas.
Officials of schools, barangays, and fraternities or sororities may face a minimum of 20 years in prison in the event that death or injuries occur during initiation rites and if they were present or were proven to have knowledge of such rites.
Legislative inquiries on amendments to the decades-old Anti-Hazing Law were prompted by the death of 22-year-old Horacio "Atio" Castillo during initiation rites to the Aegis Jvris, a fraternity in the University of Sto. Tomas Faculty of Civil Law.