EDITORIAL: That barbaric act called hazing

The death of young University of Mindanao student August Ceazar P. Saplot, a pledgee of the ALPHA KAPPA RHO Fraternity, Alpha Delta Chapter, to an alleged case of fraternity hazing brings us back to the conversation of whether or not hazing is allowed in our civilized society, particularly in educational institutions.

It is strangely surprising that Saplot’s death had to happen and in Davao City at that. We recall that in 2018, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 or Republic Act No. 11053, completely prohibiting hazing and imposing harsher penalties on organizers and participants of hazing.

The law is an amendment of the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995 or Republic Act No. 8049 which prohibited hazing only when there is no prior written notice to school authorities or the organization head.

Its Section 3 explicitly bans hazing.

“All forms of hazing shall be prohibited in fraternities, sororities, and organizations in schools, including citizens’ military training and citizens’ army training,” it reads.

The prohibition covers even non-school-based fraternities, sororities, and organizations.

The previous law–the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995, officially designated as Republic Act No. 8049–regulates the acts of hazing and other initiation rites in fraternities and sororities in the country. It prohibits and penalizes physical harm and violence in such practices.

The new law also introduces criminal penalties and fines as part of the penalties for those responsible for hazing.

It can be recalled that the signing of the Anti-Hazing Act comes in the aftermath of the death by hazing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III. On September 17, 2017, Castillo was punched and paddled for 4 hours until he fell unconscious and died.

So how come hazing deaths like the recent incident that claimed the life of Saplot still happening? At this modern times, we find hazing as a means for acceptance to an organization too barbaric and unacceptable. One’s tolerance to pain or survival from a physical ordeal does not guarantee loyalty to a an organization in this civilized society.

These perpetrators–who have been identified and detained–must suffer the penalties of the law and hopefully, their prosecution under the law will bring about a deterrence to fraternal hazing.

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