MANILA (UPDATED) — Government prosecutors have found probable cause to indict 7 Tau Gamma Phi fraternity members for 2 counts of hazing which led to the death of engineering student John Matthew Salilig and the injury of another recruit.
In a press briefer Wednesday, the Department of Justice said all 7 frat members “planned and actually participated in hazing the recruits by way of paddling.”
“The complainants were likewise able to establish that the injuries sustained by John Matthew Salilig led to his death,” it said.
Aside from Salilig, the panel of prosecutors identified Roi Osmond Dela Cruz as another recruit who sustained injuries as a result of the initiation rites that was a requirement for admission into the Adamson University chapter of the fraternity.
Named as respondents who will be charged with violation of sections 14(a) and 14(b)(1) of the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 (RA 8049 as amended by RA 11053) are:
- Earl Anthony Osita Romero a.k.a. "Slaughter";
- Tung Cheng Benitez Teng, Jr. a.k.a. "Nike";
- Jerome Ochoco Balot a.k.a. "Allie"
- Sandro Dasalla Victorino a.k.a. "Loki";
- Michael Lambert Alcazar Ricalde a.k.a. "Alcazar"
- Mark Muñoz Pedrosa a.k.a. "Macoy"; and
- Daniel Delos Reyes Perry a.k.a. "Sting'
Section 14(a) of the Anti-Hazing law punishes those who planned or participated in hazing which led to death with reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison and a fine of P3 million while section 14(b)(1) of the law imposes the same jail time and a fine of P2 million pesos on those who planned and participated in hazing.
The first 6 respondents were arrested on March 1 after they were invited to the Biñan, Laguna police station.
The 7th respondent, Perry, surrendered the following day to Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla.
Based on the findings of the prosecutors, all 7 were present during the initiation rites on February 18, 2023 in Biñan, Laguna.
Romero said it was Perry, the master initiator, who first hit Salilig with a paddle six times that led to his “uncontrolled defecation.” Salilig, at that time, was suffering from diarrhea.
The statement contradicted Perry’s claim he did not participate in the initiation rites because he was supposedly looking out for the safety of the neophytes.
“Clearly, having the first knack in paddling John Matthew was not consistent with looking out for his health and safety,” the resolution said.
Romero also said it was Teng, the head of the Adamson chapter of the fraternity, who paddled Salilig and the other recruits next, followed by Balot.
Victorino and Ricalde were outside the venue but prosecutors said their act of staying until the rites ended, their knowledge of the initiation and their role as contact persons showed they were part of the planning and conduct of hazing.
As for Pedrosa, he was supposedly present during the initiation rites and provided the venue.
“All told, the foregoing discussion indubitably leads to the conclusion that all 7 respondents actually planned and participated in the conduct of the hazing on February 18, 2023, hence, making all of them liable as co-principals by direct participation and even by conspiracy,” the resolution said.
The 2 criminal charges will be filed before the Biñan, Laguna regional trial court, according to DOJ spokesperson Asec. Mico Clavano.
Joeffrey Salilig, father of the victim, said the family was happy with the development.
He called on schools and authorities to abolish fraternities, adding those who are responsible for the incident, including educational institutions, should be held accountable.
He also said that the Anti-Hazing Act should be amended.
John Matthew, an Adamson University engineering student, was reported missing by his brother on February 20.
He had told his brother on the night of February 17 that he will attend the fraternity’s initiation rites. Although already a member of a different chapter of the fraternity, he was still required to undergo welcoming rites.
His body was found on Tuesday, February 28, in a remote site in Cavite, after a fraternity member brought the police to the location.
Salilig was allegedly hit at least 70 times and was no longer responsive while on board a vehicle.
A medico-legal report from the PNP said Salilig died due to severe blunt force trauma to the lower extremities.
Meanwhile, two other complainants filed 2 additional hazing complaints against 17 Tau Gamma Phi members before the DOJ on March 10.
The complaints have yet to be assigned to handling prosecutors.