House bill seeks to ban hazing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 26) — All forms of hazing are banned in the latest version of a House bill that seeks to strengthen the Anti-Hazing Law.

The House Subcommittee on Prosecutorial Reforms of the Committee on Justice approved Tuesday House Bill 3467. The bill prohibits hazing and regulating other forms of initiation rites of fraternities, sororities and other organizations.

The current Anti-Hazing Law or Republic Act 8049 only regulates the act, said Bagong Henerasyon party list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, author of House Bill 3467. "As opposed to this, we are completely prohibiting any forms of hazing," she added.

"We have a consensus among all resource persons that this is the law that we need to immediately address the many concerns particularly of the most recent incident that happened on a hazing victim," Justice Committee Chair Reynaldo Umali said.

The bill gains steam in the aftermath of hazing victim Horacio Castillo, a 22-year-old University of Santo Tomas (UST) law freshman. He was found on Sept. 17 in Tondo, Manila after he took part in hazing rites of the Aegis Juris fraternity. He was declared dead later that day, with the initial autopsy report stating he succumbed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or thickening of the heart muscle. Police said he had hematoma or bruises on both upper arms and several marks of candle wax drips all over his body.

Read more: UST law student dead after alleged hazing

Umali said the House bill filed in September last year was certified as urgent even before Castillo's death, showing the "pressing need to strengthen our laws to prevent such needless loss of a life full of promise and potential."

The bill also considers not just physical, but "psychological injuries to the neophyte" as hazing, Herrera-Dy said. She said this was among the changes made to the draft of the bill after the technical working group's meeting on Sept. 7.

All community-based and school-based fraternities, sororities and organizations will also be required to register with the school or local government unit.

School and local government authorities will be required to monitor organizations' initiation rites to make sure no hazing is conducted. At least two representatives of the school must be present in the initiation rites. Participants must submit a medical certificate prior to the initiation.

Holding initiation rites outside school grounds aggravates criminal liability under the bill.

A consent form signed by the participant does not exempt hazing perpetrators from liability, the bill states.

The Senate, meanwhile, is investigating Castillo's death. More details were revealed as senators on Monday grilled UST Law Dean Nilo Divina as well as hazing suspect John Paul Solano.

Solano, a member of Aegis Juris fraternity, said he was not alone when he brought Castillo to the hospital, and said he would tell all in an executive session.

Read more: Solano: I was not alone when Atio was brought to hospital

Divina said he was no longer an active member of Aegis Juris. He joined the fraternity in 1986.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas contributed to this report