This website requires JavaScript.

Hazing Death Prompts Call To Scrap ROTC Plan

Hazing Death Prompts Call To Scrap ROTC Plan
Students and faculty members attend a mass for hazing victim John Matthew Salilig at Adamson University in Manila on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Photo by Ernie Pen~aredondo, The Philippine STAR

Saying it has the same “destructive hazing culture” that dominated school-based fraternities in the country, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) urged government officials on Thursday, March 2, to drop plans to reinstate the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

In a statement, the ACT condemned the death of Adamson University student John Matthew Salilig after allegedly undergoing hazing during initiation rites of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.

It urged fraternities to seriously exert efforts to end the violent tradition and culture of hazing in their midst.

The latest incident, ACT said, should prompt national leaders not to revive ROTC, which it described as “intrinsically militaristic, macho-fascist, violent and rotten to the core.”

“Our schools should at all times be safe spaces for learning and zones of peace. Such school environment is vital in enabling free discourse and genuine pursuit of truth and knowledge that is relevant to the lives of our youth and the country’s future,” the teachers’ group added.

Adamson University on Thursday again held a requiem mass for Salilig.

Members and officers of the Tau Gamma Phi chapter in Adamson were tagged in the alleged hazing that led to the death of Salilig, a member of the fraternity’s chapter in Zamboanga.

On the other hand, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said the reinstatement of mandatory ROTC would help college students improve their character and personality, which would help them overcome even social media bullying.

“As (National Defense) Secretary Carlito Galvez said, ROTC would help improve (students’) mental health because it’s a discipline that can be learned,” he said during the “Kapihan sa Manila Bay” forum on Wednesday, March 1.

“The students who don’t do anything, have low self-esteem. When you let them out and do ROTC with physical activities, there are disciplinary actions for their infractions, they will learn to value themselves,” he said.

“They (students) will say that if I can handle being exposed to the sun and marching for a few hours… this bullying on social media, I can handle it. It doesn’t hurt me physically. I was able to handle the physical and mental stress I received in ROTC. The training will provide personality development, most likely it will be a big help in personality development,” the senator noted.

Anti-hazing law

Following Salilig’s death, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Thursday committed to get rid of “hazing and all forms of senseless acts of violence” in Philippine higher education institutions.

CHED chairman J. Prospero De Vera III welcomed the directive of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla for the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel investigation on the death of Salilig.

“CHED strongly condemns hazing and all forms of violence in our institutions of higher learning. Republic Act (No.) 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 was passed into law on 29 June 2018 to strengthen the enforcement of the Anti Hazing law,” said De Vera.

“CHED will remain steadfast in its unceasing efforts to rid our higher education institutions of hazing and all forms of senseless acts of violence,” he said as he urged the police to expedite their own investigation so the proper charges can be filed against the perpetrators.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has urged fraternities to strictly observe the Anti-Hazing Law, or RA 11053.

Col. Redrico Maranan, PNP public information officer, reminded fraternity organizations about the severe penalties that await people involved in hazing. Maranan also encouraged school officials to monitor the activities of their students so they would not be victims of fraternity violence.

Records from the PNP showed there were five hazing incidents recorded in 2022, lower by 50 percent compared to 10 incidents in 2021. Hazing cases peaked at 30 in 2018, Maranan said.

Frats already outlawed

The Adamson University (AdU) has already “outlawed” fraternities inside the university, its president maintained.

“I knew fraternities have been banned already for so many years,” said AdU president Fr. Marcelo Manimtim, CM. He asserted these fraternities “cannot do any of their activities within the campus,” but could do them outside the university walls instead.

The school only accredited about 40 RSOs or recognized school organizations, which are mostly civic, social and religious in nature, he emphasized.

However, he admitted the university is also “aware of the existence of I think, at the moment, two fraternities still operating because we have identified their members who are students of Adamson.”

According to Manimtim, the university was able to identify 15 out of 18 persons of interest allegedly involved in Salilig’s death. He asked the university registrar to find out if the remaining three people are enrolled in the school.

End the violence

Fraternities and sororities in the country should altogether end the “tradition of violence,” asserted the mother of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III who died due to purported fraternity hazing.

“I’m asking now the fraternities and sororities. This time, do your part in taking away the violence, so those who want to become members and their parents will not fear when they find out they will be joining,” Carmina Castillo said in in Filipino over radio dzBB on Wednesday.

She suggested government agencies and fraternities and sororities should meet and discuss how to implement the anti-hazing law, which she believed has become stricter.

Republic Act No. 11053 of 2018, a year after Castillo died, amended some provisions of the existing anti-hazing law or RA 8049.

Carmina also offered support to the family of John Matthew Salilig, who reportedly succumbed to injuries believed to be from hazing after undergoing initiation rites by members of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.

In a message to The Philippine STAR, she said the hearing against the 10 Aegis Juris members who led the initiation rites for Castillo in September 2017 was already “98-percent complete,” with the accused up to defend themselves. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Roel Pareño, Ghio Ong