I am a police officer assigned at the training school of the Philippine National Police. Our task is to train, guide, and mentor police officers who undergo basic or specialization courses. On one occasion, I caught one of the police trainees using a cellular phone during a certain stage in their specialization course. Using a communication device is strictly prohibited during that stage of the specialization course, and this is expressly provided as violation of training policies. Because of his infraction, the police trainee was required to perform a series of physical exercises as punishment. The police trainee absented without filing an official leave on the following day, and filed a complaint for violation of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law against me. Did I violate the provision of this law?
Section 1 of Republic Act (RA) 8049 or An Act Regulating Hazing and Other Forms of Initiation Rites in Fraternities, Sororities and Other Organizations and Providing Penalties Therefor, states:
“Hazing, as used in this Act, is 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, otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.
“The term “organization” shall include any club or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Military Academy, or officer and cadet corps of the Citizen’s Military Training and Citizen’s Army Training. The physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as approved by the Secretary of National Defense and the National Police Commission duly recommended by the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Director General of the Philippine National Police shall not be considered as hazing for the purposes of this Act.”
In your case, there is no violation of RA 8049, if the physical exercises performed by the police trainee as a punishment for violation of training policies is for the purpose of enhancing the physical, mental and psychological fitness of the said trainee and this is also in accordance with the training policies or program of instruction approved by the Director of the Philippine National Police. Hazing, however, is committed if the physical exercises are no longer in accordance with the training policies.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.