Hazing in the Philippines cannot be totally eliminated, President Rodrigo R. Duterte admitted on Tuesday night in the wake of the recent death of a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) plebe.
Despite having signed the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 (Republic Act 11053) banning all forms of hazing last year, Duterte said the violent form of initiation rites cannot be wiped out unless fraternities, sororities, and other similar organizations in schools are banned.
“Hindi mo talaga matanggal ‘yan (You really can’t eliminate that) Unless you ban fraternity for all time. Make it a criminal offense by joining a fraternity,” Duterte said in a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport before departing for his trip to Russia.
He, however, said that making the act of joining a fraternity a criminal offense could “raise so many constitutional issues.”
Duterte recalled how he himself experienced hazing in his youth and even got hospitalized for three days due to massive hematoma.
He said that he and law school classmates, including former Supreme Court Justice Bambit Mendoza, wrote San Beda’s Lex Talionis Fraternity to ban hazing but to no avail.
“We wrote our fraternity and asked earnestly to do away with the physical. Wala rin eh. Hindi mo talaga maalis ‘yan (No avail. You can’t eliminate it),” Duterte said.
Duterte also said that he is against hazing, describing it as an act “carried too far.”
He discouraged severe initiation rites, stressing the importance of being able to bring a person to the hospital before it is too late.
“Ang tingin mo pagka ma-brod mo na, anong tingin mo sa kanya? Anong tingin niya sa iyo (What do you think about your brotherhood, what do you think of him? What does he think of you)? That will create a lifetime animosity. ‘Yang tamang-tama lang. ‘Yang ‘pag madala sa ospital, mabuhay. ‘Wag naman ‘yung mamatay (It should be just enough. Enough to bring a person to the hospital. Not one that would lead to their death),” Duterte said.
Await probe results
Meanwhile, Duterte said he would await results of the investigation into the death of PMA cadet fourth class Darwin Dormitorio, who died last Sept. 18 due to hazing.
“This is a subject of so many investigations — the police and the PMA hierarchy itself. Patapusin mo muna (Let’s let them finish first),” Duterte said.
Duterte said it would be “prudent” to keep what he knows to himself until after investigation results are out.
“‘Wag mo akong tanungin kasi (Don’t ask me because) eventually the administrative case pupunta ‘yan sa akin (will reach me) for final. Kung (If there will be a) mag-reconsider — motion for reconsideration, the final appeal administratively is to the Commander-in-Chief, ako (me),” Duterte said.
The Baguio City Police Office said it is ready to file criminal charges against seven PMA cadets and two doctors of the PMA Station Hospital, who were tagged in Dormitorio’s death.
Last year, Duterte signed RA 11053, which prohibits all forms of hazing in fraternities, sororities, and organizations in schools, including citizens’ military training and citizens’ army training.
Penalties as grave as reclusion perpetua and a PHP3-million fine will be imposed upon those who planned or participated in hazing activities.
There are also penalties for officers, advisers of the fraternity, sorority, or organizations, who are present during hazing; and even non-resident members or alumni who tried to hide, conceal, hamper, or obstruct any investigation. (PNA)