A veteran lawmaker has vowed to push for the passage of “House Bill No. 4714”, also known as the “Servando Act”, during the opening of the House of Representatives’ second regular session for the 16th Congress on Monday.
Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian made the promise before the parents of Guillo Cesar Servando, who died exactly a month ago after undergoing violent hazing in the hands of members of the Tau Gamma Phi Fraternitas chapter of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
Gatchalian personally invited Aurelio Servando and his wife as his guests during President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28.
Yellow stickers bearing the anti-hazing logo and support for the “Servando Act” were distributed in the House of Representatives to mark the first month of Guillo Cesar’s death.
“I call on the families of hazing victims as well as groups who are for against hazing to join me and Mr. and Mrs, Servando in pushing for the immediate passage into law of the “Servando Act” that will put to an end to all forms of hazing,” Gatchalian said.
“I hope and pray that Guillo Cesar Servando will be the last in the long list of hazing victims who lost their lives while undergoing violent hazing in the hands of their would-be brothers,” the solon added.
Gatchalian, a member of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, also called on the public – particularly students and members of the academe – to remain vigilant by keeping track of the status of the preliminary investigation.
The Department of Justice is still conducting an investigation on the suspects behind the death of the 17-year-old Servando, who was the inspiration of the filing of the bill.
“It is important that we closely monitor the Servando case until its logical conclusion which is the meting out of just punishment to those behind Guillo Cesar’s death,” Gatchalian said even as he lamented that no one has been convicted under the “Anti-Hazing Law of 1995”.
If enacted into law, Gatchalian’s bill will repeal Republic Act 8049 or the “Anti-Hazing Law of 1995”, 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.
“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 pointed out.
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 P1 million and face the same amount of jail time.
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.
“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,” Gatchalian said.
“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,” he added. (Monica Cantilero)