Stricter hazing IRR out soon

Published September 30, 2019, 7:30 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) expressed optimism that the amended anti-hazing law will help “put an end” to incidents of maltreatment and suspected cases of hazing that involve students in higher education institutions (HEIs).

CHED Chairperson J. Prospero De Vera III

CHED Chairman Prospero De Vera III, in an interview, said that the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Republic Act No. 11053 or the amended Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 will be out “very soon.” This, he explained, will pave the way for stricter penalties for those who are involved in any hazing incident.

“The IRR is already finished,” said De Vera. CHED was asked to lead different government agencies in the crafting of the IRR. “The Commission en banc has authorized the CHED offices to now conduct final public consultation in the IRR and once the public consultation is over and it has been incorporated in the IRR, I will sign it already,” he said.

De Vera noted that only one round of public hearing is needed before the IRR is signed. “So that [law] will be effective once it happens and after the last round of public hearing, we should be ready to roll it out,” he explained. After the last public hearing, he said that the additional changes will be incorporated in the IRR. “I will sign and the other government agencies will also sign it and it becomes effective,” he added.

Salient features, CHED’s role

The Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 (RA 11053) amended Republic Act 8049 which was passed in 1995. De Vera noted that in the amended anti-hazing law, one of the biggest changes is the definition of hazing.

The definition of hazing has been expanded and there are stricter penalties – it is considered a crime to do it,” De Vera said. Since the definition of hazing was expanded, he noted that the coverage of persons who will be covered by penalties was also expanded. “There are stricter penalties for those who do it, those who allow it to happen, for school authorities [who allowed it] to happen – they all covered by that,” he added.

Overall, De Vera stressed that the idea behind the amended anti-hazing law is “zero tolerance” for hazing. “The problem before is that the enforcement of the law was not very strict, many can go around it so we tightened and expanded it,” he said. HEIs and other school authorities, he added, “have to report if they are going to do any activity related to student organizations must be reported to the school and the school is reported to the school if something happens.”

Unlike in the 1995 anti-hazing law, De Vera said that CHED drafted the IRR “so we will be stronger monitoring.” CHED will also be “capacitating” the universities to be able to enforce the law better. “This is the change in the role of CHED – it’s not only IRR but we will now help the schools prepare for it,” he added.

Recent hazing deaths

In September 2017, the hazing death of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, a freshman law student of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), broke the hearts of students and parents alike. A year, after the RA No. 11053 was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte to eliminate the weaknesses of the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995.

Two years after Castillo’s demise, another hazing-related death made headlines when Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cdt. 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio was found dead last September 18 allegedly due to maltreatment by his upperclassmen.

Just last week, screenshots and photos which indicate hazing-related violence – particularly a photo of an anonymous man with bruises on both arms – surfaced. This after a group chat of supposed members of Sigma Rho fraternity became viral.

In a statement issued by the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Office of the Chancellor last September 27, the UP assured that it is “investigating allegations of hazing” by the said fraternity and that suspects were already “placed on a preventative suspension.” The university also assured that formal charges will be filed “where there is evidence to support such a move.”

Over the weekend, the UPD confirmed that one of the Sigma Rho Fraternity members implicated in latest online expose has died by suicide. The university then appealed to the public to “stop posting and forwarding messages” related to the death “out of sense of decency and respect for the privacy of the family.”