Senator Win Gatchalian on Tuesday called for the imposition of strict penalties on fraternity members who participate in the cover-up of hazing incidents, such as the actions taken by resident and alumni members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity in the wake of the suspected hazing death of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.
The senator proposed that the act of any member of a fraternity, sorority, organization, or other institution to conceal, prevent the discovery, or otherwise obstruct the investigation of law enforcement officials into reported incidents of hazing be punishable by the penalty of reclusion temporal (imprisonment from twelve years and one day up to twenty years).
“We can see that the fraternity is trying to conceal and cover up what happened. So, we also have to put it in the law that members who did not actually participate in the hazing, but participated in the cover-up, should be put in jail,” Gatchalian had said in an ambush interview after the third Senate inquiry on the death of Castillo.
“It’s alarming how their elders or senior brods who are practicing lawyers, some are even working in the government, are the ones teaching the younger brods how to cover-up and conceal what happened,” Gatchalian added.
The senator also expressed grave disappointment towards UST Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina and the Office of Student Affairs of the University of Santo Tomas for their lack of competence in preventing hazing within the school.
“Naghuhugas kamay ang Office of Student Affairs at si Dean Divina. Naglagay sila ng adviser na sabi nakatutok sa mga aktibidad ng Aegis Juris, pero for six years, wala silang na-detect na hazing sa kanilang eskwelahan. So it’s safe to say that the school was ineffective in stopping hazing,” he said.
Gatchalian’s proposed Senate Bill No. 199, which seeks to replace the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 (Republic Act 8049), aims to increase the liabilities of educational institutions in the hopes of completely abolishing hazing.
The bill would impose a fine of one million pesos on an educational institution if it approves the written application for a fraternity, sorority, or organization to conduct initiation rites, and hazing occurs during said rites, or when no representatives from the school were present during the initiation as required by the law.
Addressing the parents of Atio, Gatchalian assured them: “Atio’s death will not be in vain. We will work hard to completely abolish this senseless and unnecessary act of hazing.”