Senators have sought the expulsion of student-members of fraternities not recognized by their schools.
The lawmakers were also mulling holding the schools and their officials accountable in case of death of a student due to fraternity hazing.
Sen. Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights presided at yesterday’s hearing on the fatal hazing of John Matthew Salilig, and engineering student of Adamson University.
Tolentino called for the suspension of the accreditation of schools where a student would die of hazing.
In a media briefing after the joint committee hearing with the public order committee chaired by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, Tolentino said schools could expel fraternity members on reasonable grounds, adding it is the schools’ right although there was no enabling law about it.
During the hearing, Dela Rosa insisted that the best thing to avoid the existence of unrecognized fraternities in schools is to kick out or expel fraternity members.
“Since you consider them as outlawed, kick them out, expel- that’s the best thing. But you don’t want it due to tuition fees being paid to you,” Dela Rosa told lawyer Ana Abad, one of the representatives of Adamson University on Taft Avenue, Manila.
Invoking the constitutional rights of fraternity members, Abad said they are willing to help the committees formulate additional guidelines and parameters to avoid a recurrence of hazing deaths.
The battered body of the 24-year old Salilig, member of Tau Gamma fraternity, was found in a two-foot grave in Imus, Cavite. He allegedly underwent rigorous hazing rites in Casile, Laguna.
Tolentino justified the suggestion to suspend the accreditation of schools where hazing deaths might occur, saying it is neither harsh nor drastic.
He added it is the only way to “balance things to avoid deaths.”
Echoing the assertions of Tolentino and Dela Rosa on the expulsion of fraternity members and suspension of accreditation of schools, Sen. Raffy Tulfo said the authorities could have called the Tau Gamma fraternity members and warned them of expulsion for joining fraternities not recognized by the schools.
If they were given early warnings, Salilig could still be alive, Tulfo said.
Tolentino said Salilig’s death could have been avoided if the Adamson officials apprised their students that hazing has been prohibited by law.
Adamson University director for student affairs lawyer Jan Nelin Navallasca said they have orientation on anti-hazing law, but this was disputed by two of the suspects who attended the hearing.
“As second parents, they should be more highlighted not just in the law but in the implementation of school-based policy. CHED (Commission on Higher Education) has also the authority to remind schools about the prohibition on hazing,” Tolentino added.
Asked on the liabilities of Adamson and its officials, Tolentinosaid it depends on the Department of Justice, adding that charges would be filed. “There’s joint liability,” he said.
Roi Dela Cruz, also a hazing victim, recounted that Salilig suffered seizures at the height of the initiation rites.
De la Cruz said he pleaded with his fellow fraternity members to take Salilig to the hospital, but they argued it was prohibited.
After pretending that his father was coming to fetch him, Dela Cruz he was allowed to go home, adding that when he left, Salilig was already unconscious.
The other fraternity members testified they agreed to bury Salilig instead of bringing him to a hospital.
At present, police are looking for at least 10 suspects in Salilig’s death.