14-year-old dead from hazing

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MALOLOS CITY: A 14-year old student from Santa Maria, Bulacan died after undergoing gang initiation rites this week, with what could be one of the youngest victims of the illegal activity in the country.

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The victim is identified as Christian Dela Cruz, a grade 8 student of F. Halili National Agricultural School and a resident of Sitio B.M., Barangay Santa Clara, Santa Maria.

Police investigators found Dela Cruz was recruited by a gang called True Brown Style (TBS) and was subjected to initiation rites on Tuesday night, June 23, at St. Claire Subdivision, Barangay Santa Clara, where one of the suspects lives.

At 10:00 pm that day after arriving at home, the victim complained of severe stomach ache and was rushed by his family to Mercado Memorial Hospital in Poblacion, Santa Maria for medical treatment and was later transferred to Bulacan Medical Center in Malolos City.

Doctors declared Dela Cruz dead from internal bleeding on Wednesday morning, June 24, according to a report submitted by Police Supt. Rodolfo Hernandez, Santa Maria police chief to Police Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina, Bulacan police director.

The suspects have been arrested and were identified as Brylle Christian Daguiso, 25, Annalyn Merca, 17, and a minor. Another minor surrendered to authorities. The last suspect, another minor, is still at-large.

But Police investigator PO2 Jonathan Mañacap, in an interview with The Manila Times, said they have turned over the two minor suspects aged 15 years old and below to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Based on Republic Act (RA) 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, a child 15 years of age or under “at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempted from criminal liability.” The children, however, should be subject to an intervention program by the DSWD.

The other two suspects were temporarily detained at the Santa Maria Police Station and a criminal complaint for violation of RA 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law resulting to homicide is being prepared against them and the at-large suspect.

The death of Dela Cruz came just days before the first death anniversary of Guillo Cesar Servando, a De La Salle-College of St. Benilde student, who died from injuries sustained after the initiation rites he went through on June 28 last year under the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.

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