Police trainee made to perform physical exercises for fitness not hazing

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I am a police officer designated as trainor/instructor in a specialization course offered by the Philippine National Police (PNP). My problem started when one of the students filed a complaint against me for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law. The student alleged that I committed hazing when I require him to do physical exercises as a punishment for his violation of training policies. I caught this student using a mobile phone in the critical phase of their training. The purpose of prohibiting them to use a mobile phone/communication device is to eliminate or minimize the leakage of confidential information to civilians that might compromise their mission. Physical exercise is also allowed under the training manual that was approved by the PNP and the National Police Commission (Napolcom). Did I violate any provisions of the Anti-Hazing Law?
Arenio

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Dear Arenio,
For your information, the law that governs hazing is 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. Hazing is defined under Section 1 of this law 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 similar tasks or activities or 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, or 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 the 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 hazing for the purpose of this Act.”

In your case, there is no hazing or violation of the Anti-Hazing Law because the physical exercises which you require your student to perform is not in the form of an initiation or prerequisite for admission to the PNP.
Instead it is in accordance with the training manual or policies duly approved by the authority. Further, the second paragraph of the provision cited clearly exempts the physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine the physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members of the PNP as approved by the Napolcom as outside the coverage of the law.

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 dearpao@manilatimes.net

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