Amid reports that five suspects in the fatal hazing of Guillo Cesar Servando have left the country, the House committee on revision of laws will start conducting hearing tomorrow on House Bill No. 4714, which seeks to permanently prohibit all forms of hazing in fraternities and similar school-based organizations.
The hearing on the Servando Act will be presided by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, who chairs the committee on revisions of laws. The hearing will be held at the South Wing annex at 9:30 a.m., August 26. Mr. Aurelio Servando, father of Guillo, has been invited to the hearing.
Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian is the principal author of HB 4714, or the “Servando Act”, which seeks to totally prohibit hazing and impose graver penalties on fraternities, sororities, student organizations, and school administrators whol will be involved in violent hazing in the future.
If enacted into law, Gatchalian’s bill will repeal Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law which proved to be toothless in not only preventing hazing but also in going after those responsible for such violent acts, including school authorities who always keep a policy of silence on the matter.
“To stop hazing, it must be recognized by the law for what it is – a barbaric criminal act that compromises the integrity of any organization that employs it as a means of initiation. According to its formal title, RA 8049 merely seeks to regulate hazing when it should ban it outright. Anything less than the express prohibition and criminalization of hazing is not enough,” Gatchalian said in his explanatory note.
Gatchalian’s filing of HB 4714 was prompted by the hazing incident involving Guillo Cesar Servando, a sophomore student of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB) who died last June 28 due to injuries from hazing conducted by members of the CSB chapter of Tau Gamma Phi Fraternitas.
Twenty suspects, mostly members of the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity, have been charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) with violating the Anti-Hazing Law in connection with Servando’s death. Of the 20 suspects, five have already left the country before the DOJ issued a lookout list ofr the suspects to the Bureau of Immigration.
Among the suspects who have left the country are Alyssa Valbuena, daughter of former Manila Councilor Erick Valbuena, John Kevin Navoa, Esmerson Calupas, Hans Killian Tatlonghari, and Eleazar Pablico III.
“The Servando Act, named after Guillo, will outrightly ban hazing for the barbaric crime of violent initiation rites and imposes heavier penalties, including the awarding of damages to the victims and their family,” said Gatchalian, who is also a majority member for the House committee on higher and technical education and on basic education and culture.
Under the proposed measure, 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 P3 million and will face the same amount of jail time.
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 and employment records of the person convicted.
Under the Servando Act, the school will also be fined P3 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.
Other salient provisions of the Servando Act include:
- The officers and alumni of the fraternity, sorority, or organization concerned shall be jointly liable with those members who actually participated in the hazing. The prima facie presumption that arises herein shall be rebutted only by the individual defense of desistance and renunciation by the accussed.
- The owner of the place where hazing is conducted shall be liable as a principal when he has 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 the 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.
- The school authorites including faculty members 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 shall be punished for the acts of hazing committed by the perpetrators.
The bill also requires educational institutions to have all organizations registered for the enforcement of the proposed law, which means that it would no longer be possible for colleges and universities to shirk responsibility whenever someone dies or injured during initiation rites of fraternities.
“It is my sincere hope that this legislation will be the first step toward creating a peaceful and productive culture for fraternities, sororities, and organizations, guaranteeing that anyone who violates the human rights of a neophyte will be swiftly punished. We must ensure that no more aspiring and purposeful young people will meet a tragic and senseless end through hazing. Let the memory of Guillo Cesar Servando not be in vain,” Gatchalian said. (Monica Cantilero)