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AKRHO is not a fraternity (Corrected – AKRHO NOT INVOLVED)

Alpha Kappa Rho is not a fraternity, it’s a street gang. Regardless of its fairly decent roots in UST (where it was founded by a bunch of Commerce students and one Med student), the organization as it exists now has devolved into lawlessness and atavistic barbarism. The death of Guillo Cesar Servando is proof of that.

EDIT: It has come to light that it wasn’t AKRHO that was involved in the death of Servs (as his HS friends called Giullo Servando), but Tau Gamma Phi. While I stand by my opinion of AKRHO, it is not fair for them to be mentioned in connection with this incident. I apologize for that.

As for Tau Gamma, I daresay you can take my first paragraph, replace AKRHO with Tau Gamma, replace UST with UP, and it’d still be accurate as hell. Tau Gamma has, in fact, devolved into a street gang whose grubby members are given to vandalizing property with spray painted triskelions.

Admittedly, in both cases, the original members – and perhaps several generations of members – remain true to the mission of their founding fathers, but it would be wishful thinking of the worst sort to deny that the adoption of their name and style by thugs and hoodlums has not done their organizations any good.

Time to crack down, before someone else dies.

How many more of these young people have to die before schools and the Department of Education take concrete steps? The Anti-Hazing Law is one of the most pointless statutes in the books. In my experience, it ranks up there with “Terms and Policies of Use” as the most un-read and ignored documents anywhere. Hell, the title itself gives the damned thing away: AN ACT REGULATING HAZING AND OTHER FORMS OF INITIATION RITES IN FRATERNITIES, SORORITIES, AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS AND PROVIDING PENALTIES THEREFOR.

Even better, check out Section 4:

Section 4. If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals.

The provision starts with a big IF, and that IF has been the dodge for every fraternity and sorority. If there is physical injury, you’re in trouble, so NO PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. But what authorities ignore is the fact that this actually gives permission for initiation masters to do everything short of breaking skin and drawing blood. And of course, even if you start out with small acts of violence masquerading as taunts, the atmosphere in an initiation is so heady that it becomes easy to graduate to bigger and bigger acts of overt violence.

The rest of the law is no better.

Section 1. Hazing, as used in this Act, is an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.

The term “organization” shall include any club or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Military Academy, or officer and cadet corp of the Citizen’s Military Training and Citizen’s Army Training. The physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as approved ny the Secretary of National Defense and the National Police Commission duly recommended by the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Director General of the Philippine National Police shall not be considered as hazing for the purposes of this Act.

The definition of hazing is retarded. It swings wildly from overbreadth (silly tasks is hazing???) to setting up internal inconsistencies (mentions psychological suffering or injury as a form of hazing but punishes only physical injury).

Section 2. No hazing or initiation rites in any form or manner by a fraternity, sorority or organization shall be allowed without prior written notice to the school authorities or head of organization seven (7) days before the conduct of such initiation. The written notice shall indicate the period of the initiation activities which shall not exceed three (3) days, shall include the names of those to be subjected to such activities, and shall further contain an undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites.

So, it’s the anti-hazing law, but hazing is actually allowed IF with prior notice. Talk about undermining yourself.

Section 3. The head of the school or organization or their representatives must assign at least two (2) representatives of the school or organization, as the case may be, to be present during the initiation. It is the duty of such representative to see to it that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted upon a recruit, neophyte or applicant.

Here, notice the preferential attention given to “physical injuries” despite mentioning psychological suffering in Section 1. This is significant because psychological torture acts a a gateway to physical abuse. When a person inflict psychological suffering on someone, his levels of aggression increase in inverse proportion to the ability of the victim to vocalize resistance. In other words, the more aggressive the initiator is, the less likely the neophyte will be able to shout FOUL! And in that situation, the cocktail of power over a submissive predisposes to the infliction of greater and greater pain.

Notice also that there is no indication of the representatives’ qualifications. They can literally be students themselves. And even if they were faculty, the law does not provide for any mechanism – such as the requirement to submit a report – that would ensure that these representatives actually do what the law intends for them to do.

Section 4. If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals. The person or persons who participated in the hazing shall suffer:

1. The penalty of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment) if death, rape, sodomy or mutilation results there from.

2. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period (17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall become insane, imbecile, impotent or blind.

3. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period (14 years, 8 months and one day to 17 years and 4 months) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have lost the use of speech or the power to hear or to smell, or shall have lost an eye, a hand, a foot, an arm or a leg or shall have lost the use of any such member shall have become incapacitated for the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged.

4. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its minimum period (12 years and one day to 14 years and 8 months) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall become deformed or shall have lost any other part of his body, or shall have lost the use thereof, or shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of more than ninety (90) days.

5. The penalty of prison mayor in its maximum period (10 years and one day to 12 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of more than thirty (30) days.

6. The penalty of prison mayor in its medium period (8 years and one day to 10 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of ten (10) days or more, or that the injury sustained shall require medical assistance for the same period.

7. The penalty of prison mayor in its minimum period (6 years and one day to 8 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged from one (1) to nine (9) days, or that the injury sustained shall require medical assistance for the same period.

8. The penalty of prison correccional in its maximum period (4 years, 2 months and one day to 6 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim sustained physical injuries which do not prevent him from engaging in his habitual activity or work nor require medical attendance.

The responsible officials of the school or of the police, military or citizen’s army training organization, may impose the appropriate administrative sanctions on the person or the persons charged under this provision even before their conviction. The maximum penalty herein provided shall be imposed in any of the following instances:

(a) when the recruitment is accompanied by force, violence, threat, intimidation or deceit on the person of the recruit who refuses to join;

(b) when the recruit, neophyte or applicant initially consents to join but upon learning that hazing will be committed on his person, is prevented from quitting;

(c) when the recruit, neophyte or applicant having undergone hazing is prevented from reporting the unlawful act to his parents or guardians, to the proper school authorities, or to the police authorities, through force, violence, threat or intimidation;

(d) when the hazing is committed outside of the school or institution; or

(e) when the victim is below twelve (12) years of age at the time of the hazing.

The owner of the place where hazing is conducted shall be liable as an accomplice, when he has actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring. If the hazing is held in the home of one of the officers or members of the fraternity, group, or organization, the parents shall be held liable as principals when they have actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring.

The school authorities including faculty members who consent to the hazing or who have actual knowledge thereof, but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring shall be punished as accomplices for the acts of hazing committed by the perpetrators.

The officers, former officers, or alumni of the organization, group, fraternity or sorority who actually planned the hazing although not present when the acts constituting the hazing were committed shall be liable as principals. A fraternity or sorority’s adviser who is present when the acts constituting the hazing were committed and failed to take action to prevent the same from occurring shall be liable as principal.

The presence of any person during the hazing is prima facie evidence of participation therein as principal unless he prevented the commission of the acts punishable herein.

Any person charged under this provision shall not be entitled to the mitigating circumstance that there was no intention to commit so grave a wrong.

This section shall apply to the president, manager, director or other responsible officer of a corporation engaged in hazing as a requirement for employment in the manner provided herein.

Apart from the stupid use of IF at the very top of what should have been the most substantial part of this law, Section 4 is mostly concerned with assigning liability. Which is fine, but again, it detracts from what the primary focus of this law ought to be: preventing hazing from happening.

Now it can be argued that the fear of punishment acts as a deterrent to wrong-doing. True enough, but only when the fear of punishment is presented as a credible threat. Simply naming the people who will be punished – but not laying out the means by which the wrong-doing can be discovered and therefore brought into the criminal justice system – does not establish credibility. At most, this provision creates a kind of frisson of excitement that wrong-doing is being committed with impunity.

Everything else that follows is blah blah.

Section 5. If any provision or part of this Act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the other parts or provisions thereof shall remain valid and effective.

Section 6. All laws, orders, rules or regulations which are inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this Act are hereby amended or repealed accordingly.

Section 7. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) calendar days after its publication in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.

What’s missing in this law?

A prohibition against drinking, for one. This law – despite it’s high-flown title – pretty much just sets out the penalties for hazing, but does not address the known antecedents of hazing, such as the consumption of alcohol. I daresay in some of the shadier organizations, drug use would be involved as well.

Qualifications for the school representatives and a reporting requirement would be very helpful too. Again, what’s the point of assigning representatives when those reps can be practically anyone. It would be better, in fact, if the law could mandate all schools have a designated overseer for all student organizations. Most Guidance Counselor’s offices are already set up for that anyway. Some schools even have that already.

Except, in at least one instance, that “overseer” role has been assigned to the school’s head of security. Stupid. Hazing isn’t a security problem. It’s a lack-of-guidance problem.

Oh and, how about getting rid of all the limp-wristed provisions of this law? Yeah, how about that? How about revisiting this law and making sure that there is no equivocation in its language and that there is no watering down of the protections being given to students.

I understand the fraternity/sorority culture. I am a Greek letter chick myself. And I remain convinced that this culture is a necessary and beneficial part of university life. When things are going great, we provide friendship and support for people who would otherwise be adrift – far from home, bombarded by academic demands and pulled in the opposite direction by the lure of freedom from parental supervision. But we are people too, and people tend to abuse freedoms. So I’m all in favor of clamping down on hazing, not by pretending to eliminate it (which can’t be done) but by providing safety nets and regulations that ensure the survival of everyone who goes through that gauntlet.

If this law were tougher, if it were better crafted, if we had rational regulations, then perhaps people like Servando could be graduating in a year’s time instead of just being dead right now.

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