What's happening to hazing cases in the Philippines?

MANILA, Philippines – The newest case of hazing of a sorority member was elevated to the Department of Justice (DOJ) after the 18-year-old victim filed the complaint with state prosecutors on Friday, February 17.

Larissa Colleen Alilio, a 2nd year tourism student at the Lyceum of the Philippines University in Manila, is suing 14 members of the Tau Gamma Sigma sorority for violation of Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law.

Alilio, daughter of Lemery, Batangas Mayor Eulalio Alilio, sustained bruises and burns after her thighs were hit with a paddle and candle wax was poured on her back during a hazing rite held at an abandoned house in Las Piñas last January 8.

According to her affidavit filed with the local police, Alilio said she was sought out by a Tau Gamma member who took her cellphone number and called her repeatedly and then followed her around campus.

Alilio said she had no interest in joining the sorority but members cornered her to follow them in an isolated part of the campus where she was "blessed." After that, Alilio said she was threatened to join the sorority where she paid her "services" for 4 days by running errands for the members, until the hazing rites on January 8.

Saglit lang daw po, sundin ko lang daw po ano sasabihin nila sa akin. Tumungo daw po ako at pumikit, huwag daw po imumulat ang mata ko. At sinabi po na “I love Tau Gamma” habang hinihimas po ang mukha ko,” Alilio said in her affidavit.

(They told me it would just take a while, they told me to do as they say. They told me to bow my head and close my eyes and not open them. They muttered the words "I love Tau Gamma" while carressing my face.)

Hindi na raw po ako puwedeng mag-quit, Medusa na daw po ako. Kung hindi ako susunod ay ha-huntingin daw po nila ako. Tinatakot na po nila ako…Nakiusap po ako sa kanila na ayaw ko po talaga sumali, nag-alok po ako na mag sponsor na lang ako o magbibigay ng pera pero hindi na po ako sasama sa kanila. Pero sinabi po na hindi daw po puwede. Kung hindi daw po ako susunod ay papatayin po nila ako,” Alillo said.

(They told me after that, that I cannot quit, or else I would be 'Medusa.' They told me they would hunt me if I don't oblige. They threatened me. I pleaded that I did not want to join, I offered to sponsor them financially instead. But they told me I cannot opt out, and if I don't oblige they would kill me.)

Medusa is a term used for members at the training level within the Tau Gamma Sorority.

Hazing

On January 8, Alilio was taken to a house in Las Piñas where around 40 sorority members gathered. They blindfolded her and asked her to kneel down. They hit her thighs with a paddle and belt, and poured melted candle wax on her back as they slapped her face repeatedly.

According to her mother, Cherry Alilio, the last thing her daughter heard before blacking out were the words "Kung namatay 'yan isako na lang." (If she dies, just put her in a sack.)

The victim regained consciousness and was sent back to her house in Pasay City through an Uber ride. She told her parents only the following Monday. A medical report said she suffered from "hematoma, bilateral thigh, superficial partial thickness burn and back acute stress disorder."

Alilio is now being home schooled, saying the involved sorority members are still in Lyceum.

Mrs Alilio told reporters on Friday: "Nagparatang sila na walang kayang gumiba sa kanila, ang babangga raw sa kanila ay giba, hindi ako nakikipag-gibaan, ang hanap ko lang ay hustisya." 

(They said no one can touch them, anyone who goes against them will lose. I'm not here to destroy them, I just want justice.)

The Lyceum administration had earlier said in a statement: “[The university] does not tolerate or condone violence of any kind. The institution had no knowledge of this activity, and as such, this was not a school-sponsored activity.”

TRAUMATIZED. Larissa Colleen Alilio is now being home-schooled after she was traumatized by hazing conducted by members of a sorority she did not even want to join. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

TRAUMATIZED. Larissa Colleen Alilio is now being home-schooled after she was traumatized by hazing conducted by members of a sorority she did not even want to join.

Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler


Past cases

Since 1995, fourteen people have reportedly died allegedly due to hazing, the most recent being 14-year-old student Christian dela Cruz from Bulacan who died in June 2015 after being mauled to death in a hazing rite.

The passage of the anti-hazing law in 1995 was a result of the death of Ateneo law student Leonardo "Lenny" Villa in 1991.

But in the 22 years since the law was enacted, there has only been one conviction. The Supreme Court (SC), in 2015, found two Alpha Phi Omega (APO) members guilty of violating the law for the hazing and death of University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) student Marlon Villanueva in 2006. (READ: Stop the barbarians)

One of the most high-profile hazing cases in recent years was that of Marc Andrei Marcos, a first year law student in San Beda who died in 2012 in the hands of his fraternity brothers. Anti-hazing law charges were dismissed by Cavite Regional Trial Court Branch 90 Judge Perla Cabrera Faller in 2013 for lack of probable cause and ample evidence.

The family has since filed a motion for reconsideration.

On February 17, the SC dismissed Judge Cabrera Faller for the administrative charge of "gross ignorance of the law", calling the dismissal of charges "hasty". 

The main case against the suspects, however, at this point, remains dismissed.

Last year, Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 53 Judge Honorio Guanlao also dismissed the charges in the case involving the death of De La Salle-College of St Benilde student Guillo Cesar Servando in 2014. (READ: To the murderers of Guillo: Live a meaningful life)

Fight for justice under anti-hazing law

Five months before Marcos died, another San Beda law student died due to hazing: freshman law student Marvin Reglos.

In October 2013, or one month after the Cavite court dismissed charges in the Marcos case, Reglos' family withdrew the charges and settled with suspects who are members of the Lhambda Rho Fraternity.

Reglos' mother Myrna told ABS-CBN News then: "Patay na rin 'yung leader nila. Nakapag-bail pa yung dalawa. Kung sino-sino nga nilapitan namin pati si Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, pero walang suporta ang gobyerno." 

(Their leader is dead, the two others have posted bail, we have sought help from a lot of people even Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, but the government is not supporting us.)

Former law professor and lawyer Ted Te pointed out in a Thought Leaders piece that amendments are needed in the anti-hazing law, the main one, he said, is the title itself. RA 8049 is an act “regulating”, not prohibiting, hazing. 

Alilio's mother says she has not lost faith.

"Naniniwala ako sa ating justice system, naniniwala ako sa DOJ, naniniwala ako na hindi mababale-wala ang kaso ng anak ko. Baka ito na yung simula, kung hindi ako yung lalaban sino pa yung ibang lalaban," she said.

(I believe in the justice system, I believe in the DOJ, I believe that my daughter's case will not be set aside. Maybe this is the beginning, if I will not fight, who will?) – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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