Stop Hazing: Stop frat-related Violence

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Hazing claimed the life of UST a law student, Horatio Tomas Castillo III, as he sought the promises and possibilities of a future in the brotherhood of the Aegis Juris Fraternity.

Once again the days resound with outrage, condemnation, and condolences. Since the anti-hazing law—Republic Act 8049—was passed in 1995, there have been more than 30 deaths. While thousands have been complicit in these deaths—many roam free, nameless and faceless, many have had cases dismissed or diminished by the theater of courts that skillfully mitigate culpability through avenues of loopholes and appeals, many have disappeared to the sanctuary of faraway lands and reinvented lives.

With Castillo's death, we are once again spectators in this predictable theater of dismay, fault-finding, and denials, replete with the essential hearing and grandstanding of grilling politicians spewing passionate on integrity, loyalty, and truthfulness, as they try to break through the fraternal code of silence.

The days are awash with cliches clamoring for laws with teeth. Justice Secretary Aguirre wants more teeth in the implementation of the Anti-Hazing Law. But 8049 is quite clear—it criminalized hazing in 1995, a law impressively replete with definitions, liabilities and penalties -- reclusion perpetua, reclusion temporal, prison mayor, prison correcional. Hazing is a crime, whether it is done under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether it results in death or undue physical injury or psychological maiming. When death occurs, it is murder, or, at the least, manslaughter—not reckless imprudence—and maximum penalty should be imposed. The law doesn't need more teeth. The law doesn't need amendments. What we need are incorruptible dispensers of the law, men with courage, gumption, and mettle who will buck the system of quid pro quos, utang na loob, political pressure and arm twisting by padrinos, brods-in-high-places and the powers that be.

We can only hope that Horatio Castillo's hazing death does not get consigned to the dustbin of history. That like Lenny Villa's death in 1991 that spurred the passage of the Anti-Hazing Law, Castillo's death will help end the ritual of hazing, his death the last of the senseless deaths in the name of and search for brotherhood.



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