Hazing, fraternal brotherhood, and governance



House Bill No. 3731 was recently filed in the House of Representatives to amend Republic Act No. 8049, an “Act Regulating Hazing and Other Forms of Initiation Rites in Fraternities, Sororities, and Other Organizations and Providing Penalties Therefor.”

The present Anti-Hazing law penalizes the officers, former officers, and alumni of the organization who planned the initiation rites, even if they were not present during the actual initiation rites, if a neophyte suffers physical injuries or dies during the same initiation activities.

The same law mandates the owner of the place where the rites (I refuse to call it outright “hazing”) took place should be held as an accomplice to the crime. Likewise to be penalized would be the school authorities, including the faculty members, who consented to the rites and did nothing to prevent the hazing.

Under House Bill No. 3731, the drinking of liquor by the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority, or organization and the presence of non-resident members will be considered aggravating circumstances in the resolution of their cases.

Black’s Law Dictionary, the foremost legal reference for serious law practitioners, does not contain any definition of hazing – meaning its nowhere in the legal system.

RA 8049 defines hazing as “an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into 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.”

On the other hand, the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention defined it as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.”

The phrase “endangers them” is much different from the tenor of “subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.” Someone can be subjected to physical or psychological suffering, without endangering them, which is the essence of the initiation rites.

Going through the same “suffering” or rituals, without being endangered, is the bind that holds the members of the fraternity (or sorority) together. It is considered the fraternal bond of the members – that makes them unite, whether they are right or wrong.

The above-mentioned House Bill seems like the lawmakers do not want any fraternity or sorority to exist anymore.

The President’s fraternity brothers

President Rodrigo Duterte started his speech during the 115th Anniversary of the Philippine Navy on October 12, 2016 with a statement saying that most of his cabinet members are his friends, fraternity brothers, and fellow Davaoenos.

President Duterte is a member of the Lex Talionis Fraternitas, a fraternal organization founded in 1969 at the San Beda College of Law. Lex Talionis is the Latin phrase for Law of Retaliation.

This concept of equal retaliation is derived from the Law of Moses found in the New Testament of the Bible, which states in part – “an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.” The Law of Moses is likewise known as the Mosaic Law, the ancient law of the Hebrews, contained in the Pentateuch and traditionally believed to have been revealed by God to Moses.

This can probably explain why the President acts and reacts the way he is now. It seems that he is a believer of the Mosaic Law.

Unknown to many, Lex Talionis has a secondary name – Sodalitas Ducum Futurorum, which is Latin phrase for “Solidarity of Future Leaders.” Lex Talionis boasts of a number of leaders, elected or appointed to various high positions, past and present, in our government.

DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd, Justices Jose Mendoza and Bienvenido Reyes and BI Deputy Commissioner Al Argosino are among the many Talions in the government.

Lex Talionis Fraternitas, just like its counterpart fraternities, had its own share of unfortunate experiences of hazing. No one wants their neophytes to die, or to have permanent disabilities. Just like the proverbial Phoenix, these fraternities rise up from the ashes of hazing and goes through a rebirth.

The Supreme Court, in siding with the fratmen’s pleas for compassion, stated that “We are prepared to give [them]the benefit of the doubt, taking judicial notice of the general tendency of youth to be rash, temerarious and uncalculating.”

Fraternal brothers are bounded by the difficulties of initiation and the demands of being fraternity members. Thus, it is not extraordinary to see them helping each other to succeed, even beyond college days – and including State governance.

Inside the Gangsters’ Code

Inside the Gangter’s Code is a cable television show produced by Discovery Networks International that is aired in around 200 countries. It is hosted by Louis “Lou” Ferrante, a former Mafia member (Gambino Family), who was convicted and jailed for a series of heists in the United States in 1994. He successfully appealed his own conviction, by himself and without a lawyer, and was released from prison in January 2003.

Ferrante eventually became a successful author and TV host. He devoted much of his time in helping British prison inmates, which earned him the Celebrity Reading Hero Award in the United Kingdom in 2009.

In the series Inside the Gangsters’ Code, he traveled around the globe to meet with the world’s deadliest gangs and reveal their secrets. He delved into the epicenter of gang culture and organized crime and explored their control of the world’s most dangerous prisons. In 2013, he came to the Philippines and visited the New Bilibid Prisons and made a documentary titled “Inside the Gangsters’ Code – The Commandos”

While filming the documentary, Ferrante witnessed the brutal rituals and the initiation of applicants wanting to become members of the gang. Hazing at its finest.

Can House Bill No. 3731 or RA 8049 address the issue of gang hazing? My insight tells me that it won’t.
Sections 2 and 3 of RA 8049 provides: “No hazing or initiation rites in any form or manner by a fraternity, sorority or organization shall be allowed without prior written notice to the school authorities or head of organization seven (7) days before the conduct of such initiation. The written notice shall indicate the period of the initiation activities which shall not exceed three (3) days, shall include the names of those to be subjected to such activities, and shall further contain an undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites.”

“The head of the school or organization or their representatives must assign at least two (2) representatives of the school or organization, as the case may be, to be present during the initiation. It is the duty of such representative to see to it that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted upon a recruit, neophyte or applicant.”

Clearly, the law (and the proposed law) applies only to legitimate fraternity, sorority, or organization within the confines of the academic community or the government institutions. It does not apply to street gangs.

Common sense tells us that hazing, particularly deaths resulting from it, are more prevalent and persisting in fraternities and groups outside of the academic community. Can the proposed law penalize the leaders of The Commando gang for hazing?

The kind of laws we have, reflect the kind of lawmakers we have.

Epsilon Chi’s legacy

The Engineering Circle, an organization of engineering students of the University of the Philippines – College of Engineering, was founded on October 2, 1964 by a group of 32 students. It was named as such because of the University’s ban on Greek lettered organizations at that time.

In March 1969, the University of the Philippines officially recognized the Engineering Circle as the Epsilon Chi Fraternity. The parking lot of the College of Engineering was built with the efforts of the new fraternity, as its tribute and legacy, during the same year.

Fifty years after, the Epsilon Chi Fraternity is once again leaving a legacy to the University. To show its unity, compassion, and unwavering commitment to the University of the Philippines, the fraternity decided to leave an indelible mark through the construction of a multi-purpose sports complex at the heart of UP Diliman. More than a physical structure, this legacy seeks to inspire younger UP students to excel for them to have the capacity to do the same in the future.

The Epsilon Chi Health and Fitness Center is a 1,100 square meters multi-purpose sports facility to be built in the open basketball area of the Molave Dormitory in UP Diliman. The site is in front of the Bahay ng Alumni, one of the busiest venues in the campus these days. It will house a basketball court, function rooms, and commercial spaces. The commercial areas are intended to generate rental income that will augment the university’s budget for Molave Dormitory’s repairs and maintenance.

The construction of the project officially started on October 8, 2016. Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato “Boy” Dela Pena, an Epsilon Chi Radian, was the keynote speaker during that event.

Also present were Environment Undersecretary Mario Luis “Louie” Jacinto, Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board Member Ronaldo Corpus, Philippine National Railways Chairman Manuel “Noly” Torres, Commission on Higher Education Executive Director Julito Vitriolo, former Manila International Container Port District Collector General (ret.) Elmir Dela Cruz, and former Transportation Assistant Secretary Lorenzo “Amboy” Formoso III.

The legacy project, costing P22 million, has a message to UP, its students, and graduates – we give back.
As Ferrante would put it, “It takes a gangster to unlock another gangster.”

In the same manner, it takes a fratman to understand another fratman.

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