Four years after embarking on a crusade to revamp the country’s Anti-Hazing Law in the wake of the gruesome murder of a promising young Filipino during fraternity initiation rites, Senator Win Gatchalian is once again urging his fellow lawmakers to expedite the approval of landmark anti-hazing legislation which will ensure that “no more blood will be shed in the pursuit of brotherhood.”
“I am overcome with a sad sense of déjà vu,” expressed Gatchalian during his co-sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 1662, the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018. “History has repeated itself once more. Yet another innocent and promising young man, Atio Castillo, has lost his life during brutal hazing rites conducted by his fraternity brothers-to-be, and the people demand action from their representatives in Congress,” he said.
Gatchalian recalled that back in 2014, when he was still congressman of Valenzuela City, the vicious murder of De La Salle-College of St. Benidle student Guillo Servando during initiation rites conducted by the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternity “shocked the nation” and propelled the House of Representatives to pass Gatchalian’s proposed anti-hazing measure –House Bill No. 5760, informally known as the Servando Act – on third and final reading a year later. Unfortunately, the bill was not approved by the Senate and died a natural death when the 16th Congress came to a close in June of last year.
Noting that the House of Representatives of the 17th Congress had already passed its proposed amendments to the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 (Republic Act 8049) earlier this week, Gatchalian proclaimed that “the ball is once again in the Senate’s court.”
The senator lobbied for the speedy passage of the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 to close glaring loopholes in the 23-year old Anti-Hazing Law that were uncovered by the Senate during its explosive investigation into the hazing death of UST freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III at the hands of members of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.
He noted the importance of provisions in the Senate bill that “establish clear-cut responsibilities and liabilities of educational institutions in preventing and policing hazing” and “severely punish resident and alumni members of fraternities who would dare attempt to frustrate the ends of justice by covering up the hazing crimes committed by their brothers.”
“Most importantly,” the senator stressed, “this bill changes the central paradigm of the law – instead of regulating hazing it will completely prohibit all forms of hazing, once and for all.”
In closing, Gatchalian stressed a poignant thought: “This bill is written in the blood of Atio, Guillo, and all of the other promising young Filipinos who have lost their lives to the senseless crime of hazing.”
“I urge the esteemed members of this chamber to rally behind the swift passage of Senate Bill No. 1662, so that no more blood will be shed in the pursuit of brotherhood. We must not allow history to repeat itself once more,” he ended.