(UPDATE) Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian today filed a bill to be known as the “Servando Act”, which seeks to totally prohibit hazing and impose graver penalties on fraternities, sororities, student organizations and school administrators who 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.
“In order 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, R.A. 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 mote.
Gatchalian’s filing of “House Bill No. 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.
A week before the death of Servando, another college student, a 17-year-old from the University of the Philippines whose identity remains unknown , has been hospitalized for two days after undergoing the initiation rites of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity.
“The so-called ‘Anti-Hazing Law,’ which has been in effect since 1995, has not been effective in preventing neophytes from being injured or worse, killed because of hazing. It actually only regulates hazing and provides a limited scope of liability,” Gatchalian said in his explanatory note.
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 P2 million and face the reclusion perpetua.
If the hazing resulted to 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”, 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.
Other salient provisions of the “Servando Act” includes:
- 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 accused.
- 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 he can do so without peril to himself or his family.
- If the hazing is held in the home 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.
- The school authorities 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 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.
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.
“Allowing these organizations to come out of the shadows and become formally recognized by the institutions that house them will empower and compel both the organizations and the institutions to exercise greater accountability and transparency in their actions,” Gatchalian said.
Part of the accreditation process for fraternities, sororities and other student organizations is the submission of the updated list of their officers and members not later than 30 days from the start of every semester or trimester. School officials can impose penalties on officers of fraternities, sororities, and organizations who fail to register or update such list as required under the “Servando Act”.
“It is my sincere hope that this legislation will be the first step towards 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)