Senate hazing ban bill hurdles 2nd reading, eyes final nod Monday

MANILA -- The Senate on Tuesday approved on second reading the proposed measure banning hazing and regulating other forms of initiation rites of fraternities, sororities and other organizations and is now eyeing to pass the amended Anti-Hazing Law by Monday next week.

Senate Bill 1662, to be known as the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, was pushed in the upper chamber following an inquiry into the death of University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio "Atio" Castillo III last year.

The inquiry was conducted jointly by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights

The measure seeks to improve on the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995, which lawmakers said had failed to prevent hazing deaths.

SB 1662 expands the definition of hazing to "any physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, member, neophyte or applicant" as a form of initiation rite or practice made as a prerequisite for admission in a fraternity, sorority or organization.

Hazing acts under the definition include "paddling, whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substances."

The measure also considers "any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical and psychological health of such recruit, member, neophyte or applicant" as a form of hazing.

The proposed law requires fraternities and sororities to register with the school, university, or in cases of community-based organizations to the barangay.

The organizations are also required to have an adviser who will be responsible in monitoring the members' activities.

The fraternity or sorority adviser should be an active member of the school faculty and in good standing.

For school-based initiation rites, fraternities, sororities, and organizations are required to submit and post a written application not later than seven days prior to the scheduled date, indicating pertinent details regarding the initiation rites.

In addition, the presence of school representatives will be required to monitor, record and report initiation rites so as to ensure that no hazing shall be conducted.

The measure also seeks to hold school officials more accountable for activities of fraternities and sororities.

The measure likewise imposes penalties ranging from four years to life imprisonment and fines ranging from PHP 1 million to PHP 3 million to those found involved in hazing.

Any person, member of the fraternity or not, who has knowledge of hazing but failed to inform authorities will also be penalized under the proposed law.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri lauded the swift passage of the bill in the Senate.

He expressed high hopes that the measure would be swiftly ratified by both Chambers of Congress.

I'm putting the cart before the horse because it was not yet ratified, but I'm sure this will go through ratification very soon, Zubiri said.

Zubiri's optimism is not without basis as the House of Representatives has already approved on final reading an almost identical version of the proposed bill last January 22.

SB 1622 was presented for plenary consideration only last January 23. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency