THE AUTHOR of the Anti-Hazing Law is blaming weak enforcement for the continued practice of hazing among fraternities and sororities.
In a UST forum last Sept. 29, Thomasian and former senator Jose “Joey” Lina Jr., author of Republic Act (RA) 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law, answered critics claiming the 22-year-old law needed to be repealed because it only “regulated” hazing.
“It’s not the law itself, but it is how the law is observed. A law is only as good as it is implemented. The law can only do so much. You need the community, you need the police, the fiscal, the court and even the prison system,” Lina said in the forum at the Medicine Auditorium.
Lina warned that repealing the entire RA 8049 could free violators from imprisonment.
“Cases may possibly be dismissed because there’s no more law. Even if you enact another one, that gap may present some practical problems,” he told the Varsitarian.
Only one conviction ruling has been affirmed by the Supreme Court since the law was passed in 1995 — that of Alpha Phi Omega fratmen Dandy Dungo and Gregorio Sibal Jr. in the 2006 hazing of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Marlon Villanueva.
“This landmark Supreme Court decision should serve as a guide to the bench and the bar in handling hazing cases,” Lina said.
Lina welcomed amendments to improve the law, admitting the title was “misleading.”
“There is no perfect and permanent law, and some should adjust to fast-changing times,” he said.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri told reporters last Sept. 26 the old law might no longer be repealed as requested by Lina, but would still undergo numerous amendments.
“Ang pakiusap ni Senator Lina, [dahil] nandiyan naman `yung key provisions, baka puwedeng amend na lang,” he said.
Zubiri said his bill, which he filed on Sept. 19, sought to “once and for all end the senseless killings by prohibiting the practice of hazing.”
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian’s bill wants RA 8049 repealed as it merely sought to regulate, not ban, hazing.
‘Hazing a crime’
Lina clarified that the existing law already criminalized hazing.
“The law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, is a law that penalizes hazing, therefore hazing is a crime,” he said.
Section 4 of RA 8049 penalizes hazing participants of up to 40 years in prison if the act resulted in death, rape, sodomy and mutilation of the person subjected to hazing.
Penalties in the existing law include four years in prison to a life term, depending on the severity of injuries. Also, the mere presence of an individual in the hazing act entails a minimum punishment of prison correccional (imprisonment of 4 years, 2 months, and one day to 6 years).
Zubiri said the proposed amendments would do away with the “graduated penalties.”
“Gagawin naming simpler and straightforward. Wala nang masyadong graduated penalties,” he said.
Another proposed amendment is automatic life imprisonment for officers of the fraternity involved in a hazing rite.
The owner of the building where the hazing took place should also be penalized, Zubiri said.
The Anti-Hazing Law has come under scrutiny anew after the hazing death of UST law freshman Horacio Castillo III on Sept. 17.
The Senate will begin hearings on changes to the Anti-Hazing Law on Oct. 3.