Solon wants universities to recognize frats

Posted at 06/30/14 3:53 PM

MANILA - A lawmaker is urging colleges and universities to recognize fraternities and sororities to better monitor their activities following the death of a student from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) allegedly due to hazing.

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin T. Gatchalian urged school administrators to re-examine their policies of banning fraternities and sororities, saying this is a major reason hazing activities continue to be held in secret.

The lawmaker maintained that while he respects the policy of some universities and colleges prohibiting fraternities and sororities, he thinks it has not solved the problem of hazing-related deaths.

"I think it is high time that universities and colleges reexamine their policy of banning fraternities and sororities in their campuses. The more you ban fraternities, the more they will go underground and conduct their activities sub rosa. But if you accredit them as regular school organizations, they will be forced to submit to the rules and regulations of educational institutions," Gatchalian said in a statement.

The congressman, who is senior vice chairperson of the House committees on higher and technical education, said accrediting fraternities will enable school administrators to have a copy of their constitution and by-laws, as well as the list of officers and members, which will help them keep track of fraternity activities.

"Schools should have fraternities and sororities registered so they can closely supervise the activities of such organizations, especially when it comes to their initiation ceremonies where hazing is employed," said the lawmaker.

Under Republic Act 8049, also known as the Anti-Hazing Law, hazing or initiation rites will not be allowed without a prior written notice to school authorities or head of the organization such as the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, or the Philippine Military Academy.

The said notice should include the period of initiation, which should not exceed three days, the name of the applicants, and an "undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites."

Two representatives of the school or the organization have to be present during the initiation to ensure no physical harm will be inflicted upon the recruit.

Participating officers and members of the fraternity, sorority, or organization will suffer life imprisonment in case of death, rape, sodomy, or mutilation of a person subjected to initiation.

"But if the fraternity or sorority is not registered with the university or college, who will be liable if an applicant is hurt or worse, dies? This is why such groups should be registered with school authorities so their activities will be regulated," said Gatchalian

Gatchalian proposed that neophytes should be required to submit a medical certificate showing they are fit to undergo hazing which is defined by law as "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."

The lawmaker also called on schools to provide an area for initiation rites. School officials will also be held liable in case a recruit dies or is incapacitated.

Gatchalian noted that San Beda College, where two fraternity hazing-related deaths in 2012 occurred, also prohibits the existence of fraternities and sororities.

In February 2012, SBC Law freshman Marvin Reglos died due to injuries caused by hazing during initiation rites of the Lambda Rho Beta fraternity. Alleged fraternity members Erick Edrosolano Castillo, 28, and Bodjie Amorin Yap, 24, were arrested after they went back to the hospital, supposedly to check on Marvin's condition.

On July 30, 2012, SBS Law student Marc Andre Marcos died after undergoing initiation rites of the Lex Leonum Fraternitas that included hazing in a farm in Silang, Cavite. The case against members of the Lex Leonum who were accused in the death Marcos due to hazing has been dismissed for lack of corroborative evidence.