Robredo hits culture of violence in fraternities

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo denounced the culture of violence in fraternities, saying hazing is not needed to prove one's loyalty to a group.

Robredo made the comment after the death of University of Santo Tomas freshman law student Horacio Castillo III, allegedly during the initiation rites of the Aegis Juris fraternity. (READ: Horacio Castillo III wanted to be Chief Justice)

"Nakakalungkot. Parang hindi naman kailangang mangyari, kaya ang tanong natin, bakit nangyayari?" Robredo said in her weekly radio show on Sunday, September 24.

(It's sad. It should not have happened, that's why my question is, why is it happening?)

"Mahirap talagang intindihin. Kasi parang sinasabi kaya nagkakaroon ng hazing kasi ito iyong parang pinakasukat kung gaano ka ka-desidido na maging bahagi ng grupong ito. Pero maraming paraan para masukat mo kung gaano ka-desidido iyong isang tao na sumali," she also said.

(It's really difficult to understand. They say there is hazing because that's the measure of how a person really wants to be part of a group. But there are many other ways to measure that.)

Robredo, who was a lawyer before she joined politics, said she understands the intention of law students in joining fraternities but maintained violence has no place in these groups. (READ: What's happening to hazing cases in the Philippines?)

"Marami naman akong mga kaibigan na kasali sa fraternity. Marami silang dahilan. Iyong isang dahilan nila, networking. Pagkatapos mo mag-graduate, mahalaga iyong mayroon kang pamilya sa labas ng paaralan... na maaasahan mong makakatulong," she said.

(I have many friends who belong to fraternities. They have many reasons, one of which is networking. After you graduate, it's important to have a family outside school, who you can ask for help.)

"Ito, valid naman ito, iyong networking, iyong kahalagahan. Siguro iyong hindi natin maintindihan, bakit kailangang magkasakitan?" she added.

(That one is valid – networking and its importance. But what I don't understand is why should there be a need for violence?)

On September 17, Castillo was declared dead on arrival at the Chinese General Hospital. He died due to injuries his parents believe were from hazing.

Castillo's father said his son was recruited by Aegis Juris – a recognized fraternity based at the UST Faculty of Civil Law. (READ: Castillo family: 'Atio was killed by criminals from Aegis Juris fraternity')

John Michael Solano, who earlier claimed he just found Castillo's body on a pavement in Tondo, Manila and brought him to the hospital, surrendered to police last Friday, September 22. It turned out that Solano is part of the fraternity. (READ: Facebook Messenger chat may give clues to Castillo's hazing death)

The Senate public order committee is set to probe Castillo's death on Monday, September 25. Solano is expected to attend the Senate hearing. (READ: DOJ offers protection to witnesses in killing of Horacio Castillo III– Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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