HORATIO Castillo III was laid to rest on Wednesday, burying with him the secret fraternity rites that resulted in his untimely death. He is gone but the specter surrounding his alleged hazing lives on.
Castillo’s death prompted members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to file their respective resolutions to either amend the existing Anti-Hazing Law (Republic Act 8049) or craft an entirely new one.
In the version of the lower house, the justice committee adopted the proposal to penalize the act of hazing even if there is no resultant injury or death. It likewise considered the imposition of a penalty of 20 years to life imprisonment and a fine of P1 million on the perpetrator of hazing.
The present law defines hazing as an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities, or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.
It is interesting that the law considers hazing as synonymous to initiation. However, initiation is technically different from hazing. Initiation is the formal admission or acceptance, through some traditional ceremonies, into an organization, club, or society. Initiation may or may not include hazing. This is akin to the rites of passage which forms part of the culture of some tribal groups.
Persons who have not undergone any initiation rites, or failed in such rites, would have a hard time understanding the concept of initiation and readily dismiss the same as unnecessary, brutal, and even criminal.
Rites of passage are diverse and differs from one group to another. They share the same stages – separation, liminality, and incorporation. Separation pertains to the individuals withdrawing from his present group or status and preparing to enter a new status in joining a new group. Liminality is the transition phase from the old self to a new self. This is where the subject undergoes transformation through a series of tests and challenges. Incorporation is the final stage. Having completed the rites, the “new” individual is accepted and enters a new status, society, or organization.
For fraternities, the applicant goes from being a “barbarian,” to a “neophyte,” and finally, to a bonafide member.
Initiation is not all that bad. It is the tie that binds the members of a fraternity, sorority, or similar organizations. Studies have shown that severe initiation produces cognitive dissonance, which in turn heightens group attraction among initiates. This is considered important to establish a stronger group identity and conformity among its members. Generally, again based on studies, initiations produce greater feelings of affiliation.
Well, criminalizing and banning initiation will spell the demise and the end of Greek-lettered societies.
As a fratman, I deplore and condemn the death of Castillo. The culprits must be punished. Yet, it must be kept in mind that it was an accident that nobody wanted to happen. It should not be used to serve as a death knell to legitimate fraternities.
Sorting out SBMA appointments
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed on September 25 lawyer Wilma Eisma as the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator and explicitly designating her as its chairman.
Duterte first appointed Eisma as SBMA Administrator on December 21, 2016. Prior to this, Martin Diño was appointed SBMA Chairman on September 23, 2016. These separate appointments resulted in a feud and tug of war between Eisma and Diño.
This column was the first to express the view that the separate appointments for the positions of Chairman and Administrator were not in accordance with the provisions of applicable laws. I emphasized that the President cannot appoint the Chairman. The President should appoint the Administrator, who in turn, by virtue of his office, shall serve as the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer. This is in line with the provisions of R.A. No. 7227.
This is what I wrote on the subject on October 29, 2016, in this column –
“It is the Administrator, whom the President should appoint. In accordance with the provisions of the law, the appointed Administrator is the ex officio chairman of the board. The appointed Administrator is likewise the CEO. A better recourse for this administration, to correct the perceived errors, and prevent management wrangling at SBMA in the very near future, is to 1) revoke the appointment of [OIC Administrator Randy B.] Escolango; 2) void the original appointment of Diño; and 3) issue a new appointment to Diño as the SBMA Administrator. Voila, no more legal problems.”
My advice was followed. But, to the distress of Diño.