Press Release
February 26, 2012

Sotto pushes absolute life term penalty for hazing

ALARMED over persistent reports of hazing injuries and deaths, Senator Vicente Sotto III has proposed the imposition of life term penalty to anyone who participates in hazing, regardless of the condition of the victim.

The Senate Majority Floor Leader has filed Senate Bill No. 3131, seeking to amend the 17-year-old RA 8049 or the Anti-Hazing law.

Sotto argued that the law has proven to be inadequate in deterring fatal hazing in universities and colleges and in making fraternities and sororities accountable.

The most recent victim of fatal hazing is 25-year-old San Beda freshman law student Marvin Legros. He was reportedly beaten to death. In his proposed measure, Sotto wants the automatic punishment of life imprisonment for any fraternity or sorority officers or members who participates "in the infliction of physical harm in hazing or other forms of initiation rites."

The present law provides for a graduated level of penalty, depending on the harm that the victim suffered.

It states that life imprisonment will only be imposed if "death, rape, sodomy or mutilation" results from the hazing.

Imprisonment of 17-20 years on the other hand, is imposed if the victim "shall become insane, imbecile, impotent or blind.

If the victim loses the use of speech, or lost an eye, or a hand or any limb, the penalty is between 14 to 17 years imprisonment.

The lightest penalty, four to six years in prison, will be meted if the victim suffers physical injuries "which do not prevent him from engaging in his habitual activity or work."

On the other hand, Sotto's bill seeks an absolute imposition of reclusion perpetua, whatever the condition of the victim.

"The bill seeks to amend Sec. 4 of the Anti-Hazing law, where the mere fact of participation in inflicting injuries in hazing will be penalized with reclusion perpetua, regardless of the consequence," Sotto said.

Sotto said many young lives have been lost and ruined, and some suffering from life-long injuries, because of hazing.

"How many promising lives should suffer or die before we finally realize the folly of hazing? How many families, how many parents have to suffer the pain of seeing their child dead or maimed for life, before we put an end to hazing," he said.

"We have to make accountable, with the firmness of the law, those behind these fatal hazing. If a higher penalty will serve as a deterrence, then let's push it," he added.

The Majority Floor Leader is also proposing to include additional circumstances that will warrant the imposition of life imprisonment.

This time, he wants that the maximum penalty to be handed down "when the hazing or initiation rite is committed under the influence of illegal drugs or liquor" and when a fraternity or sorority alumni is present during the hazing.

The Anti-Hazing law was passed in 1995, yet despite this, Sotto said "there are still numerous reports of deaths and injuries. It only shows that there is a need to strengthen the law, by providing a higher penalty."

One of the most celebrated cases was the death of Ateneo law student Leonardo "Leny" Villa in 1991. The Supreme Court recently upheld the guilty ruling on five members of the Aquila Legis Fraternity for Villa's death.

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