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MANILA, Philippines – At least 15 persons of interest have been identified in an alleged hazing that killed a 24-year-old chemical engineering student of Adamson University, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Batoctoy of Imus Police said on Wednesday, March 1.
In an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), Batoctoy said that John Matthew Salilig’s body was buried in a vacant lot at the back of a subdivision in Imus, Cavite.
“It’s a gated residence. Sa likod, may bakanteng lote roon na madamo tapos may daan na rough road. Sarado ‘yung gate ng subdivision roon eh parang backdoor nila ‘yon eh,” he said.
(It’s a gated residence. At the back, there’s a vacant lot there, grassy, and has a rough road. The gate there of the subdivision was closed, as it serves as their backdoor.)
“[May indication ito] na mabilisan lang ginawa,” he added. (There’s an indication that it was done in haste.)
The police officer said the 15 persons of interest were identified based on the accounts of a witness to the incident.
The witness told the police that Salilig was beaten at least 70 times during the initiation rites.
His body was found on Tuesday, February 28, over a week after he was reported missing. He was identified by his brother.
In a statement, Adamson University said that it has conducted its own probe into the incident and has cooperated with the authorities on the matter. The school said Salilig died on February 18, Saturday.
Tau Gamma Phi-Imus chapter issued a statement condemning the death of John Matthew. The fraternity described the incident as “hazing.”
“This is a blatant violation of laws, especially Republic Act 11053 or the Anti-Hazing law. This is inhumane and against our beliefs as members of Tau Gamma Phi,” the fraternity said. (READ: What you need to know about the Anti-Hazing Law)
In an interview with DZBB, John Michael Salilig, brother of John Matthew, said that he himself experienced hazing when he joined Tau Gamma Phi.
“Pinagdaanan naman lahat yan. Mas worse pa during our time,” he said.
(Everyone undergoes that. It was worse during our time.)
John Michael then called on fraternities to stop hazing during initiation rites.
“Sana gawin na lang ‘yung other ways… Sa mga fraternities, kung ano man ‘yung brutal way, break it or stop na lang,” he said.
(I hope they just do it in other ways. To fraternities, whatever brutal way, break it or stop it.)
Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla had already reached out to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the incident.
“Yes, the secretary has already asked [the] NBI to conduct a parallel probe into the alleged hazing death. We hope to shed light on this issue,” Clavano told reporters.
Clavano added that the DOJ condemns “any violation” of Republic Act No. 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act.
“However, we will await any case that will be filed before our prosecutors. Rest assured, any forthcoming case will undergo diligent evaluation. If probable cause with reasonable certainty of conviction is found, we will prosecute the case until the perpetrators of this crime are finally brought to justice,” the justice spokesperson explained.
House Speaker Martin Romualdez, meanwhile, offered a P500,000 reward to anyone who can provide details that will lead to the arrest of those behind Salilig’s death.
“Brothers do not kill brothers,” Romualdez said. “Frat-related or not, any crime that results in death deserves utmost condemnation.” – with reports from Jairo Bolledo and Dwight de Leon/Rappler.com