Press Release
February 12, 2018

Senate passes Lacson-sponsored anti-hazing bill

The Senate approved today on third and final reading a bill seeking to completely ban hazing as a pre-requisite for admission into a membership of a fraternity, sorority or organization.

Senate Bill No. 1662, or the act amending Republic Act No. 8049 to strengthen the law on hazing and regulate other forms of initiation rites of fraternities, sororities and other organizations, was approved with 19 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Panfilo Lacson - who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs that investigated the hazing death of law student Horacio Castillo III - was introduced by Senators Gregorio Honasan II, Sherwin Gatchalian, Loren Legarda, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar and Senate Minority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III. The bill was co-sponsored by Zubiri and Gatchalian.

Lacson noted the proposed legislation seeks to ban all forms of hazing in school fraternities, sororities and organizations as well as those in the community or other associations, including those in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) and other similar uniformed service learning institutions.

The bill defines hazing as any physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, member, neophyte or applicant for admission or continuing membership into the fraternity, sorority or organization.

Lacson said the measure expanded the coverage of hazing to include paddling, whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of food, liquor, beverage, drug and other substance as well as any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which would likely adverse the physical and psychological health of the recruit, member, neophyte or applicant.

Under the existing law, hazing is allowed as an initiation rite and can be practiced if there is a written notice addressed to the school seven days prior to the event. The notice should give details as to the duration of the initiation rite, the names of those undergoing the initiation rites and an undertaking that no physical violence would be employed.

The existing law requires the school to provide at least two representatives to ensure that no physical violence shall be employed on those undergoing hazing.

Lacson said the proposed legislation would require fraternities, sororities and organizations to submit and post a written application to the proper school authorities of their initiation rite detailing the activity not later than seven days prior of the scheduled date. In addition, he said, the school representatives should monitor, record and report that no hazing had been conducted in the initiation rite.

The bill also requires the appointment and identification of advisers, who will be presumed to have knowledge and consent to the commission on any unlawful act in the violation of the Anti-Hazing Law," Lacson explained.

Also, persons who had knowledge of any hazing acts but failed to report it to the authorities or those found guilty of concealing or hampering or obstructing lawful investigation by the authorities would be penalized under the bill.

"Hazing needs to stop now. Awareness must be raised as to the fact that there is no unity, no brotherhood, no strength, no honor and no respect in hazing.. It is merely violence and abuse," Lacson stressed.

Under the proposed legislation, officers and members of a fraternity, sorority or organization who participated in the hazing would suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal and would be fined P1 million.

On the other hand, members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who participated in the hazing under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs would be fined P2 million and would suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The same penalty would be imposed on non-resident or alumni members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the hazing.

The penalty of reclusion perpetua would likewise be imposed, together with a fine of P3 million, upon persons who actually participated in hazing if the same results in death, rape, sodomy or mutilation.

The school would also be held liable if officials would fail to prevent hazing from occurring during initiation rites and be fined P1 million, according to the bill.

Under the bill, the penalty of prison correccional in its minimum period would be imposed on any person who would intimidate, threaten, force or employ or administer any form of vexation against another person for the purpose of recruitment in joining or promoting a particular fraternity, sorority or organization. A persistent and repeated invitation made to a person who had twice refused to participate would be considered as vexation.

The owner of the place where hazing would be conducted would be held liable as an accomplice, the bill said. School authorities, including faculty members who consented to the hazing or had actual knowledge of it, as well as barangay, municipal or city officials would also be held liable as an accomplice and be administratively charged.

Former officers, non-resident members or alumni of the fraternity who would hide, conceal, hamper or obstruct any investigation would face imprisonment of four to six years and be fined P1 million. They would also be subjected to a disciplinary proceedings by the Supreme Court or by their respective professional boards, the bill said.

The incumbent officers of the fraternity, sorority or organization would be held jointly liable with those members who actually participated in the hazing, the bill added.

Lastly, the judgement of the final conviction of a person convicted of the crime of hazing would be reflected in his scholastic record, personal or employment record, the bill said.

In his amendment, Senator Richard Gordon proposed that the suspension or revocation of the professional license be not more than three years. The license may be reinstated as a member of their respective professional boards upon submission of affidavits from at least three disinterested persons, good moral certifications from different unaffiliated and credible government, religious and social civic organizations showing that they had become morally fit for readmission into the profession.

"This bill changes the central paradiem of the law - instead of regulating hazing, it will completely prohibit all forms of hazing, once and for all," Gatchalian said.

"I thank the chairman for including a clearer definition of the 'act of hazing' and most importantly, for adding a provision that penalizes former officers, non-resident members or alumni of the fraternity, sorority or organization who perform any act to hide, conceal or otherwise hamper or obstruct any or all investigations that will be conducted after the commission of the crime," Zubiri added.

He said the bill would "bequeath a meaningful life to the Filipino youth in memory of Atio Castillo's death" and other hazing victims. (PM)

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