A consolidated bill seeking to ban all forms of hazing and repeal the “Anti-Hazing Law of 1995” has advanced to the plenary after hurdling the committee level in the House of Representatives.
The House Committee on Revision of Laws approved the “Servando Act of 2015” on a regular panel meeting this week, almost eight months after De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde student Guillo Ceasar Servando died in an alleged hazing activity conducted by members of Tau Gamma Phi or TGP in a residential house in Makati City.
Also dubbed as the “Anti-Hazing Act of 2015”, the consolidated bill was based on House Bill No. 4714 of Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian that was filed weeks after the death of the 18-year-old Servando, who was last seen alive in a condominium along Taft Avenue in Manila.
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Gatchalian, a senior member of the House committee on local government, was appointed head of the technical working group or TWG that merged HB 4714 with four similar measures namely HB Nos. 501, 636, 4164, and 4692, which seek to amend the current anti-hazing law.
In his TWG report, Gatchalian, a former three-term mayor of Valenzuela City, said the monitoring and regulation of community-based fraternities, sororities, and other organizations in the consolidated bill will be under the jurisdiction of local government units or LGUs.
Gatchalian, who is also a member of House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, said putting LGUs in-charge of community-based groups will enable authorities to monitor groups operating outside school grounds.
“Currently, some groups are not allowed to operate within school premises. These groups, however, still manage to operate outside academic grounds. So upon the request of DepEd, we included a provision that will allow them to register with their respective barangays,” said Gatchalian.
He explained that the TWG has agreed to remove the provision regulating the training and test of police and military academies upon the request of Philippine National Police or PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP to maintain discipline among their ranks.
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“The approval of the ‘Servando Act of 2015’ will give teeth to the current ‘Anti-Hazing Law’ (R.A. 8049) in going after those responsible for such violent hazing acts and those who always keep a policy of silence on the matter,” Gatchalian said.
Under the proposed law, schools and universities shall have all organizations operating within their grounds registered for the enforcement of the measure. This will make ensure that colleges and universities cannot shirk responsibility whenever someone dies or is injured during initiation rites of fraternities.
Meanwhile, community-based groups will be required to register with the barangay or municipality or city where it is primarily based and shall submit a comprehensive list of members and officers which shall be updated yearly from date of registration.
In the proposed measure, hazing is defined as “any physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit as a form of an initiation rite or practice made as a prerequisite for admission or a requirement for continuing membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization.”
If hazing is held in the house of one of the officers or members of the fraternity, sorority, or organization, the parents shall be held liable as principals when they have actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring or failed to promptly report the same to the law enforcement authorities if he can do so without peril to himself or his family.
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School authorities and local government officials who consent to the hazing or who have actual knowledge thereof, but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring or failed to promptly report the same to the law enforcement authorities if he can do so without peril to himself or his family shall be punished as accomplices for the acts of hazing committed by the perpetrators.
Officers of the fraternity, sorority, or organization as well as participating members involved in the hazing will face reclusion temporal and a fine of P1 million. If found to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, they will be fined P2 million and face reclusion perpetua.
If the hazing resulted in death, rape, sodomy, or mutilation of the victim, participants will be penalized with reclusion perpetua and a fine of P3 million. And if found guilty, such judgment, regardless of when it was given, will be reflected in the scholastic record, personal or employment record of the person convicted.
“Under the ‘Servando Act of 2015’, the school will also be fined P1 million if it approved the written application to conduct initiation by a fraternity, sorority or any student organization and hazing occurred during the activity or if no school representatives were present during initiation rites,” Gatchalian concluded. (Tim Alcantara)