Senators vow to legislate ‘tougher’ anti-hazing law


Lawmakers lamenting the latest hazing casualty are keen to pass a tougher version of the prevailing Anti-Hazing law enacted in 2018.

Conveying collective dismay over the recent death of hazing victim Adamson University  student  John Matthew Salilig, senators are firming up a majority consensus to enact much stiffer penalties in a bid to deter a repeat of fraternity hazing fatalities.

The lawmakers deplored that the latest hazing casualty happened even as the current Anti-Hazing Act passed in 2018 was “much tougher than the old one,” prompting senators to work on an even stricter version of the law in hopes such will “finally deter further deaths of youth in the hands of fraternity brothers.”

Presiding at the Committee on Justice and Human Rights’ investigation Tuesday on the death of chemical engineering student Salilig in the hands of his Tau Gamma Phi fraternity brothers, Senator Francis Tolentino noted a law was passed five years ago against any forms of hazing.

Embodied in Republic Act 11053, the Anti- Hazing Act of 2018 was enacted after a Senate inquiry into the death of University of Santo Tomas College of Law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III in 2018 in the hands of Aegis Juris fraternity members.

“The current law that we have is stricter than the old anti-hazing law. It prohibited all forms of hazing. It made everyone present at initiation rites punishable by reclusion perpetua, whether actually taking part in hazing or not,” Tolentino said. And yet, the hazing of Salilig happened, the senator said, “all in the name of acceptance to the brotherhood.”

The senator then suggested the need to fine-tune Republic Act 11053 to give more teeth to the law, stressing that “words cannot express how much the families are grieving now, and we are well aware that the outcome of this hearing will no longer bring back the life already lost. So, to give justice not only to the death of Mat-mat Salilig but the other victims of senseless death due to hazing, the goal of this committee is to craft a policy and come up with a legislation that will ensure that no more senseless death like this will ever happen again in the future,” Tolentino said.

For his part, Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, public order committee chairman that jointly conducted the hearing with Tolentino, noted “lapses in the implementation and observance” of Republic Act 11053 are behind the continued conduct of fraternity hazing.

Dela Rosa pointed out that the anti-hazing law has been amended a number of times since it was enacted in 1995, and as long as the law is not implemented and observed properly, “hazing will continue.”

“But if we will amend the law again, I believe stiffer penalties should be imposed on schools that will fail to implement it, as well as on fraternities, sororities and other organizations that will continue with hazing practices,” Dela Rosa stressed.

Sen. Raffy T. Tulfo also wants the venue owner indicted, together with all the personalities involved in facilitating the fraternity initiation rites and to be penalized with reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment in order to stop the unfortunate deaths caused by hazing.

Unfortunately, Tulfo added, “the anti-hazing law is not enough. We have to provide it with more teeth to make the fraternities, sororities, and organizations involved in hazing liable and more responsible.”

He added: “Another provision that could be amended is to make the owner of the place where hazing is being conducted liable as an accomplice, if he or she has actual knowledge of the initiation ritual but has failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring.”

The senator stressed, “It is about time to punish all personalities, including the venue owner, involved in hazing that caused the death of Matthew Salilig, whether present or absent during the ritual.”

Tulfo also noted that records would show that from 1950 to present, there were 65 deaths caused by fraternity hazing, 11 of which happened after the passage of the Anti-Hazing law in 2018.

For his part, Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, expressed dismay over what he noted as indecisiveness and inaction of Adamson University (AdU) officials in locating students involved in the brutal initiation rites that led to the death of Salilig.

At the public hearing, Estrada asked officials of AdU why it took them some time before lifting a finger. “You are aware of the initial investigation of the police about the death of the victim and you did not even exert effort to locate the perpetrators of this crime,” Estrada said.

At the same time, Sen. Robinhood Padilla expressed regret for the individuals arrested for the fatal hazing. Padilla added he is saddened over the possibility that the suspects—who are young adults and students— would spend the prime of their lives in jail for their role in the crime.

The senator added that in turn, he then got a commitment from Adamson University officials to extend help to the suspects even as he reminded them of their role as second parents to all the school’s students.