The ambiguous and vague provisions of the anti-hazing law is going be cleared up by a proposed measure in the Senate. In fact, its proponents Senate President Koko Pimentel, Senators Miguel Zubiri and Sherwin Gatchalian seek to junk the old law and totally make illegal the act of hazing in fraternity organizations. The more draconian law is a result of the death of University of Santo Tomas student Horacio Castillo III at the hands of his “masters” during initiation rites.
In the House subcommittee on prosecutorial reforms, Bagong Henerasyon Party- List Rep. Bernadette Herrera Uy authored HB 3467 that criminalizes hazing. The anti-hazing law of 1995 has proven to be a non-deterrent to this barbaric practice in fraternities.
Under the proposed law, violators of the new law face imprisonment of six years and a hefty fine whether the victim dies or not. It is as it should be, especially in the Castillo case since the suspects are all law students at UST. They are supposed to be the future guardians of the law. As such, these law students should already be versed in basic law . Instead they worked around the weakness and loophole of the existing law which has a low conviction rate according to the Philippine National Police. Most of the accused in earlier cases are still at large with some fleeing the country to evade prosecution.
Six members of the Aegis Juris fraternity who took direct participation in Castillo’s hazing were named by suspect John Paul Solano during an executive session held in the Senate. Solano is now under the custody of the Manila Police Department and is being held for perjury because of the inconsistencies in his story that he found the victim sprawled on the sidewalk in Tondo.
Solano, facing perjury and murder charges, was left with no option but name his fraternity brothers who took part in the fatal hazing of Castillo. His reason:
“They left me twisting in the air to face prosecution alone,” lamented Solano. A part-time medical technologist, Solano said he was called by phone by a frat member to look at someone in the frat house. He said that when he arrived and examined that someone—who turned out to be Castillo—his vital signs were already weak. He said frat leaders told him to bring the body to the Chinese General Hospital in La Loma but Castillo was dead on arrival.
Solano said that on learning they had killed Castillo, the suspects panicked and fled, each going separate ways with some taking a plane to nearby countries with onward flight to the US. Flight or fleeing by suspects in a crime is considered an admission of guilt. As law students, they should know the Philippines and the US have an extradition treaty which means they can be brought back to to the country when arrested abroad.
The Department of Justice asked the DFA to cancel the suspects’ passports. Philippine embassies and consulates abroad will then be instructed by the DFA not to renew their documents.
Solano could be made a state witness against his fraternity brothers. This is a strong possibility since Solano turned himself in to the MPD and claimed he has CCT film footage showing him in their neighborhood at the time of the fatal hazing.
Horacio Castillo III was laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Park on Wednesday.. His case, however, must not be laid to rest. Those responsible for his death must be brought to justice. This is where the so-called long arm of the law must prove its reach even if the fugitives have fled abroad.
The Social Weather Stations came up with a survey saying 50 percent of the people do not believe those killed in police operations against illegal drugs fought the arresting officers. Only 20% agreed the victims resisted arrest.
Malacañang Spokesman Ernesto Abella reacted predictably claiming the SWS survey posed leading questions to the respondents. The question was “Do you believe the suspects killed fought the policemen?”
Yet when SWS survey showed Filipinos support President Duterte’s war on drugs, the Palace used the survey results as an endorsement of the president’s actions. Malacañang should take both surveys to mean that while the people support the war on drugs, they do not agree with the alleged extrajudicial killings of suspects specially of young men caught during police operations.