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Duterte signs anti-hazing law

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Senate to tackle hazing law in wake of UST law student’s death
A photo of hazing victim Horacio Tomas “Atio” Castillo III is shown while his mother, Carminia Castillo, is being interviewed by the media. — PHILIPPINE STAR

By Charmaine A. Tadalan

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into law a bill banning hazing in initiation rites and imposing up to P3 million fine for offenders, officials said.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas shared on Wednesday, July 11, a copy of Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea’s letter to Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, confirming the law’s signing on June 29.

The law will go into the books as Republic Act 11053 or Anti-Hazing Act of 2018. It seeks to prohibit all forms of hazing in fraternities, sororities, school- and community-based organizations.

The law also prohibits hazing in the recruitment of citizens’ military and army training. But it was clarified, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police may still conduct physical, mental and psychological testing and training for prospect members on the condition that said training is not considered as hazing.

RA 11053 defined hazing as any “act that results in physical or psychological suffering, harm, or injury inflicted on a recruit, neophyte, applicant, or member as part of an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission.”

These acts include, but are not limited to the following: paddling, whipping, beating, branding, forced consumption of food, beverage, any liquid or drug, among others.

It was also specified businesses or corporations cannot require hazing as part of employment procedure.

Further, school-based organizations that would like to hold initiation rites without hazing will have to file written application to the school seven days prior to the scheduled date.

The law will also require all fraternities, sororities and organizations to register, including those not organized by the school. A faculty adviser will also be a requisite in their accreditation.

Under the law, all who participated in planning and conducting, even those who were merely present during the hazing are considered liable.

Violators of the law will be sanctioned with reclusion perpetua and a fine of P3 million, if their involvement in the hazing caused death, rape, sodomy, or mutilation.

Reclusion perpetua and a fine of P2 million will be imposed on those who planned or participated in hazing under the influence of alcohol or drugs; reclusion temporal and a P1-million fine for those involved in the hazing; and prision correccional on anyone who forced or threatened another person to join a fraternity or organization.

Schools and owners or lessee of the place where the hazing was conducted may also face penalties.

The law also provided that if the offenders are members of the Bar, they will be subject to disciplinary proceedings by the Supreme Court. If the offenders are in another profession, they will be subject to regulation by the Professional Regulation Commission.

With its passage, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, who is among its sponsors, said he is hopeful no more deaths will be recorded due to hazing and suffer the same fate as Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

“Atio Castillo sought to join a brotherhood in search for his purpose in life. Since there’s no more life to speak of, let his death serve the purpose of ensuring that the misery of hazing and the employment of appalling rituals will no longer be imposed in the name of brotherhood,” Mr. Lacson said in a statement, Wednesday.

“Hazing needs to stop now. Awareness must be raised as to the fact that there is no unity, no brotherhood, no strength, no honor, no dignity and no respect in hazing. Hazing is merely violence and abuse,” Mr. Lacson said in his sponsorship speech for the measure earlier this year.