San Beda College of Law urged to reveal fraternity members

Calls have been mounting for the San Beda College of Law administration to do more to bring justice to law freshman Marc Andre Marcos, who died from hazing earlier this week.

This, as an online petition via calls on the school administration to act on fraternity-related deaths.

"School administrators of the San Beda College of Law failed to make their school hazing-free. They clearly underestimated the cycle of violence perpetuated by fraternities operating right under their noses," the petition, posted on on Wednesday said.

Marcos died on Monday allegedly after a fraternity initiation and police say Marcos sustained fatal injuries due to "heavy blows to his thighs, feet and arms."

Marcos is the second reported victim of fraternity violence in the said law school this year, following the death of Marvin Reglos in February.

"Fraternities have a culture of secrecy. They cover-up for their brods even when a crime has already been committed," the petition said. It was addressed to San Beda College of Law Dean Virgilio Jara.

"San Beda has clearly failed in disbanding all these fraternities," the petition read further.

It added that the school administration should be made "accountable for the actions of their students."

"[San Beda] shouldn’t let [its students] hide and get away from justice. They should take all the necessary action to make these students submit themselves to the police for criminal investigation," the petition said.

"Without witnesses, the case will not go on and justice for Drei will be denied," it noted.

A statement from the San Beda Law Community, posted by the San Beda College of Law - Law Student Government on its Facebook page, meanwhile, said a panel has been formed to inquire into the Marcos case.

The panel is composed of three professors, two students and two members of the community.

"San Beda College does not approve or countenance membership in any clandestine organization, which employs as part of its ceremonies or other practices any act that results in injury to any person, through intimidation, violence, reckless imprudence or coercion," the statement said.

"Those found responsible shall, with due process, be excluded from the school," it read further.

The Commission on Higher Education on Wednesday ordered the San Beda College to report on sanctions it has imposed on students charged in the Reglos case, as it urged the school to "investigate with expediency" the Marcos case.

Amending the Anti-Hazing Law

Meanwhile, lawmakers have revived talk of revising the Anti-Hazing Law, which prohibits physical violence and public humiliation in initiation rites.

On Thursday, Kabataan party-list Representative Mong Palatino said that despite the existence of the Anti-Hazing Law since 1995, students still end up being injured or killed in fraternity rituals.

"Marc Andre and Marvin have been added to the long list of hazing victims, which includes UP students Alex Icasiano and Cris Mendez, all of whom have yet to attain justice for their deaths," Palatino said. He added there are more incidents that have led to the death or injury of neophytes that remain unreported.

"It is indeed time to plug loopholes and weak points in RA 8049 (the Anti-Hazing Law), such as the exclusion of community fraternities and sororities from the mandate of the law, and the exemption of hazing activities perpetrated by military and police training institutions from its coverage. Congress should revisit this law, and address issues that have made its full implementation difficult and have rendered RA 8049 inutile," Palatino said.

The law allows "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."

Palatino added that Congress must also "enact laws and create projects that would enable the creation of a culture of collective action, a culture that would empower our youth to become free and capable to participate in activities that contribute to relevant and pressing issues of society."

Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice, has condemned the hazing death, and said he would look into proposed amendments to the Anti-Hazing Law.  "It is clear that there should be stricter monitoring of fraternities, especially those that have a track record of excessive initiation violence. Hazing goes beyond the spirit of fraternal brotherhood, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms," Escudero said.

Among those amendments could be making schools more accountable for hazing incidents. "Dapat, at the very least, may civil liabilities ang mga iskwelahan pag may namatay o may na-injure," Senator Panfilo Lacson, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, said.

He added fraternities, sororities, and organizations are legally required to give advance notice to school authorities for planned initiation rites, and that these must be monitored by two representatives of the school.

"Yan ang di nasusunod every time may death sa hazing. Obviously, walang representative ang eskuwelahan dahil in the recent cases di alam ng San Beda College. Nagugulat lang sila," Lacson said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile reminded San Beda that it is "morally obligated to put an end to the senseless killings."

"Two deaths in just five months is truly alarming. We have yet to see decisive action from San Beda officials and (for the school to) take any responsibility towards the care and general welfare of its students," he said.

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