Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday offered a P500,000 reward to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the arrest of those responsible for the death of John Matthew Salilig, a chemical engineering student at Adamson University who allegedly died from fraternity hazing.
Romualdez said the reward is to encourage individuals to come forward and coordinate with the authorities to facilitate the arrest and prosecution of the suspects or those who have knowledge behind the death of Salilig whose body was dumped on an open field in Imus, Cavite.
He condemned the gruesome killing, stressing, “A loss of life is not acceptable in a civilized society like ours.”
“Brothers do not kill brothers,” Romualdez said. “Frat-related or not, any crime that results to death deserves utmost condemnation.”
The Speaker said the House of Representatives is committed to working with concerned law enforcement agencies to ensure a safer and more secure environment for Filipinos.
“It is important that we take a proactive step to help our law enforcement agencies bring criminals to justice. Wala silang pagpapahalaga sa buhay. Sa ospital nila dapat dinala ang biktima,” Romualdez said.
Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel called on authorities to exercise zero tolerance on all forms of hazing by fraternities, sororities, and other groups.
Pending final autopsy results, the family suspect Salilig may have probably died due to hazing.
“I am calling on the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government], CHED [Commission on Higher Education], as well as DepEd (Department of Education), to exercise zero tolerance on all forms of hazing by fraternities, sororities, and other groups. Zero tolerance through a ‘one strike policy’ that results in the blacklisting and ‘persona non grata; status of any group and persons who conduct, authorize, protect, or provide assistance to conduct hazing,” said Herrera.
According to Herrera, the Anti-Hazing law has enough provisions, measures, and safeguards.
She said it is now up to concerned authorities to tighten the implementation at the local government level and with better execution with local government units (LGU).
“Apparently, the fraternities are more active now outside of campuses since the Anti-Hazing law took effect because they may have observed they can move more freely outside of the campus than on campus,” she said.
“It is now up to the DILG mainly to improve the capacity of LGUs to implement the law, especially on community-based fraternities, sororities, and gangs. Help the LGUs, especially the barangays, to register all of these groups and their members. Identify them so it will be easier to monitor and make arrests when there are violations,” she added.
For his part, Manuel called for the prompt and fair investigation to achieve justice after Salilig’s death.
“Back-to-school really should be safe for everyone. Violence has no place in the university,” he said.
“Hazing is part of the culture of abuse, violence and blind obedience to authority. It should not be allowed…,” he said.
NBI parallel probe
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will conduct a parallel probe into the death of Salilig, who is believed to be a victim of hazing, a criminal offense punishable by reclusion perpetua under Republic Act No. 11053 or the Anti-Hazing law.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, who is currently in Geneva, Switzerland, for the 52nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), ordered the separate probe.
“The Secretary [Remulla] has already asked NBI to conduct a parallel probe into the death of John Matthew T. Salilig. We hope to shed light on this issue,” DOJ Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV said.
Clavano said the Department of Justice (DOJ) condemns any violation of the Anti-Hazing law.
However, he said, the DOJ will await for the filing of any case against the suspects in Salilig’s death.
“Rest assured, any forthcoming case will undergo diligent evaluation. If probable cause with reasonable certainty of conviction is found, we will prosecute the case until perpetrators of this crime are finally brought to justice,” the DOJ spokesman said.
Salilig’s decomposing body was found buried in a shallow grave in Barangay Malagasang I-G in Imus, Cavite on February 28 or 10 days after he was reported missing by his family.
He was believed to have died due to injuries he sustained during initiation rites conducted by alleged members of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.