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Dahil me batas na: Ping hopes hazing to finally end, sana huli na si Atio

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With a new law imposing stiffer penalties on hazing in place, Sen. Panfilo Lacson hopes the hazing death of law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III will be the last.

Lacson, who sponsored Senate Bill 1662 that is the basis of Republic Act 11053, said the new law imposes penalties such as reclusion perpetua and up to P3 million in fines.

“Atio Castillo sought to join a brotherhood in search for his purpose in life. Since there’s no more life to speak of, let his death serve the purpose of ensuring that the misery of hazing and the employment of appalling rituals will no longer be imposed in the name of brotherhood,” Lacson said.

“Hazing needs to stop now. Awareness must be raised as to the fact that there is no unity, no brotherhood, no strength, no honor, no dignity and no respect in hazing. Hazing is merely violence and abuse,” Lacson said in his sponsorship speech for the measure earlier this year.

The higher punishments stemmed from hearings of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Lacson.

Lacson’s committee report also became the basis of the Supreme Court to commence disbarment proceedings against lawyers involved in the crime, including attempts to cover it up.

In its investigation, Lacson’s committee found that Castillo died while undergoing hazing rites of the Aegis Juris fraternity based at the University of Santo Tomas, with several fraternity members trying to cover up Castillo’s death.

The investigation also showed the school was lax in observing the anti-hazing law.

Under the new law, the definition of hazing has been expanded to include “physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, member, neophyte, or applicant” as a prerequisite for admission or for continued membership in an organization.

Banned under the law are “all forms of hazing” not only in fraternities, sororities or organizations in schools, but also those in communities and even businesses and uniformed service learning institutions.

The law also requires schools to be “more active and proactive” in regulating school-based initiation rites, with schools required to exercise reasonable supervision and take proactive steps to protect students from danger of participating in activities that will involve hazing.

Meanwhile, all members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who participated in unauthorized initiation rites, even if no hazing was conducted, shall be punished accordingly. Persons who had knowledge of any hazing acts committed but failed to report it to the authorities or those to be found guilty of hiding, concealing or hampering or obstructing investigation should be penalized.

Liabilities include:

* penalty of reclusion temporal and P1 million on the participating officer and members of the fraternity who were involved in the hazing
* reclusion perpetua and P2 million on members who actually participated in hazing when under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and on non-resident or alumni who participate in hazing
* reclusion perpetua and P3 million on those who participated in hazing that resulted in death, rape, sodomy, or mutilation
* P1 million on the school if it approved an initiation of a fraternity, sorority or organization where hazing occurred
* prision correccional (six months to six years) on anyone who intimidates or threatens another for recruitment. This includes “persistent and repeated” proposals or invitations to those who refused to join at least twice.
* P1 million for former officers or alumni who try to hide or obstruct investigation

If the offender is a member of the Bar, he or she shall be subject to disciplinary proceedings by the Supreme Court. If the offender is in another profession, he or she will be subject to regulation by the Professional Regulation Commission.