March 18, 2018, 10:09 am
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Frats and hazing

ONCE again, fraternity hazing has taken the life of a young Filipino.

Again, the focus of media and society is on hazing.

Last Sunday morning, Horacio Castillo III was taken to the Chinese General Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila, reportedly after a motorist found him dying, wrapped in a comforter, in a street in Tondo. Horacio died on arrival at the hospital, his body bruised and bloated, with cigarette and candle wax burns.

Earlier on Saturday, Horacio had told his parents that he would be attending his fraternity’s welcome rites at the University of Santo Tomas. He would not be using the family car because it was an overnight affair.

That was the last time they talked to him. Now the police have confirmed that he died of bodily injuries inflicted in what looked like a hazing ceremony. Suspects are his friends and brothers at the Aegis Juris fraternity at the UST College of Law.

Horacio Castillo III thus lengthened the long line of young Filipinos who died the way they did.

Most famous was Lenny Villa of the Aquila Legis fraternity at the Ateneo de Manila whose death in 1991 sparked a huge media uproar and condemnation from the public that Joey Lina, then a senator, promptly introduced a bill in the Senate that became the Anti-Hazing Law.

Passed in 1995, the law carries the sentence of life imprisonment for perpetrators of hazing if it results in death, rape, or mutilation.

Senator Lina pushed his anti-hazing bill because the 35 hazing perpetrators who killed Villa had their criminal conviction overturned by the higher court in 2012, and were found guilty only of reckless imprudence, a crime that carries a punishment of imprisonment ranging from four months to four years and P1 million in damages.

By one media establishment’s account, around 30 young and promising Filipino youths have died due to hazing, since the first reported case of hazing death -- Gonzalo Albert of Upsilon Sigma Phi in 1954. And these are just the hazing cases reported to media, for surely there have been unreported incidents through the years.

In the case of Castillo, residents of Tondo are wondering why it was reported that he had been dumped in a busy intersection there before he was taken to hospital, when the CCTV showed no footage that this happened.

This led observers to believe that the perpetrators may have wanted to mislead the police and show that it was a case of anti-drugs or extra-judicial killing, to evade responsibility. If true, this would make the crime more heinous.

Time to implement the Lina law on hazing to the fullest. We hope the police, the prosecutors and the courts are listening.
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