If there’s a scourge that should be expunged to prevent more needless deaths, it’s hazing.
Late last month, media reported the death from hazing of John Matthew Salilig, 24, a student of Adamson University.
His battered body was found in Imus, Cavite days after he attended the “welcoming rites” of Tau Gamma Phi, the fraternity now at the center of the police investigation into the fatal hazing.
His body bore signs of severe beating, investigators said, after he was whacked with a paddle at least 70 times, quoting the statements of witnesses.
On March 1, police said they were preparing to file criminal charges against 17 Tau Gamma members based on witness testimonies, including Salilig’s fellow recruit in the fraternity.
At least four witnesses from the fraternity have admitted that Salilig underwent initiation rites with Tau Gamma on Feb. 18. Seven people who allegedly took part in the initiation have been detained by the police for questioning.
But the death of Salilig from hazing also led to the reported suicide days later of a person of interest, said to be an alumnus of the fraternity, who had taken part in the initiation.
In the wake of fatal hazing of Salilig in February, the Public Attorney’s Office revealed that the same fraternity had figured in another hazing incident in December 2022 that led to the death of Ronnel Baguio, a 20-year-old Marine Engineering student of the University of Cebu.
All in all, therefore, fraternity hazing led to a total of three deaths in the span of three months.
This should prompt authorities to investigate Tau Gamma Phi, one of the country’s largest fraternities, that has publicly declared it has a “no-hazing” policy, but has been implicated in at least 14 hazing incidents since 2006, including that of a Grade 12 student who died after undergoing initiation rites in Laguna in March 2022.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has condemned Salilig’s killing and assured the family that justice would be served: “It is not through violence that we can measure the strength of our brotherhood. There should be no room for violence in our student organizations which our children consider family, and in our schools which they consider their second home.”
The country’s anti-hazing law was amended to impose tougher penalties with the passage of RA 11053, or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, following the death of a first-year law student of the University of Santo Tomas during a hazing activity of the Aegis Juris fraternity in 2017.
It is time to implement the tougher anti-hazing law to keep young people from dying in violent initiation rites.
Our schools are supposed to be safe spaces for the youth, but law enforcement agencies should really crack down on organizations that continue with traditional initiation rites leading to too many senseless deaths.