Schools must be liable for hazing cases – PAO




The Manila Times


ADMINISTRATORS of schools, colleges and universities should be held accountable for fraternity hazing cases that involve their teachers and students even if the initiation rites take place outside the campuses, a ranking official of the Justice department said. According to Persida Rueda-Acosta, chief of the Public Attorneys Office (PAO), lawmakers should revisit Republic Act 11053 or the “Anti-Hazing Act of 2018” and insert a provision that automatically imposes a ban on fraternities found involved in violent initiation rites. “Those fraternities or similar organizations that have a history of deadly practice of initiation rites must be abolished, their registration before the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) must be automatically terminated,” she said. She said school administrators must also be held liable even for incidents that take place outside the school premises if teachers or instructors are involved in hazing. “Although it is still a legal question, in my opinion, these schools and universities have liability under the principle of command responsibility. Even civil damages, they still are accountable, especially after the fact that they are found not extending any help to the families of the hazing victims,” the chief public attorney said. Rueda-Acosta also took a swipe at Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chairman J. Prospero de Vera 3rd, who appears to be silent amid a rash of violent incidents that involved universities. “The CHEd, especially Chairperson Prospero de Vera must be involved here, where is he now, what is he doing on schools under his turf,” she asked. Rueda-Acosta made the statement after the families of victims of three separate alleged hazing rites conducted by the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity met with her and asked for the PAO’s help in prosecuting the perpetrators. Among those who went to the PAO was Marycarh Rabutazo, 42, of Sta. Cruz, Laguna, whose 18-year-old son, Reymarch, died on March 20 allegedly after attending the fraternity’s initiation rites. With 12 suspects already behind bars and are already indicted for violating the Anti-Hazing Law, Rabutazo hopes that three other suspects, namely Simeon Rabin Mercado Jr., Richard Dimaranan Jr. and Vernon Rabutazo, the victim’s uncle and who was allegedly the one who organized the initiation rites, will also be arrested. “Now that PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta is helping us, we can now be assured of the arrest of the fraternity officers and the prosecution of those involved,” Rabutazo said. Leny Baguio, whose 20-year-old son Ronnel, a marine engineering student of the University of Cebu died on December 19 after undergoing initiation from the same fraternity, was thankful to Rueda-Acosta. “Before, authorities in the province did not give much time about the case of my only child but when PAO chief Rueda-Acosta stepped in, now they are moving, they are now interested to talk to me,” she said. The father and brother of Adamson University chemical engineering student John Matthew Salilig, 24, were also gratified by the support thrown by the PAO that compelled authorities to focus on the case.