Hazing ban moves in House

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A House subcommittee has approved a substitute bill prohibiting hazing and regulating initiation rites of fraternities, sororities, and other organizations.

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If signed into law, the proposed new “Anti-Hazing Act” would repeal Republic Act (RA) 8049, which only regulates hazing and initiation rites.

Authorities put up a police line in front of the fraternity office and library outside the UST campus in Manila.

“All forms of hazing shall be prohibited at whatever stage of the initiation rite or practice,” the substitute bill states.

“Only initiation rites or practices that do not inflict direct or indirect physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury to the recruit, neophyte, or applicant of a fraternity, sorority, and organization shall be allowed,” provided there is a written application to conduct such rites, according to the bill.

It states that the application “shall be made to the proper authorities of the school not later than seven (7) days prior to the scheduled initiation date.”

Under the bill, community-based fraternities, sororities, and organizations must submit a written application to the chairman of the barangay (village), and the municipal or city mayor where they are based.

The application must indicate the place and date as well as the names of those who will undergo the initiation and of the fraternity, sorority, or organization’s officers. Also to be submitted are the names of “persons that will take charge in the conduct of the initiation rites.”

The bill — approved by the House Committee on Justice’s Subcommittee on Prosecutorial reforms in a hearing on Monday — substitutes for House Bill No. 3467 introduced by Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy.

According to Dy, the substitute bill still has to go through the mother committee.

Schools execs liable

Dy told The Manila Times the bill would make school officials liable in case hazing or initiation results in death or serious physical injuries.

“If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical or psychological injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals,” the substitute bill states.

Persons who participated in the hazing will suffer 20 to 40 years in prison and pay a P1-million fine “if death, including suicide, rape, sodomy or mutilation results therefrom,” it states.

The measure provides other penalties in case the victim becomes “ill or incapacitated for the performance of the activity or work in which the victim was habitually engaged.”

Section 5 of the bill requires the school’s head to assign at least two school representatives to be present in the rites, while Section 11 requires the village captain, and municipal or city mayor where the community-based group is based, to assign at least two village, municipal or city officials.

Under the bill, the duty of school representatives and local officials is “to see to it that no hazing is conducted during the initiation rites.” They must also make a report on the conduct of the initiation.

It also requires organizations with members who are students or plan to recruit students to register with school authorities.

‘Simpler law needed’

At the Senate, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri has filed a bill amending RA 8049 “changing the title of the law from regulating hazing to prohibiting it.”

“We will make it simpler and straight forward. There will be no more graduated penalties. We just want two or three penalties: reclusion temporal or 12 -20 years (imprisonment) and reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment) and maybe reclusion mayor for other minor cases like the ownership of the building [used in hazing rites],” he said.

“The ownership of the building is the key to this law because like the Anti-Drugs Law, the owner of the facility where there is shabu laboratory is liable whether the house is rented or not,” he said.

Zubiri added: “It’s the responsibility of the owner of the facility to know what’s going on in his premises even if its not leading to death. So, we are going to put a lot more amendments to the old law. We will also include (imposition of) automatic reclusion perpetua to (fraternity) officers whether they were present during the initiation rites [or not].”

with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO

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