Lady lawmaker files bill declaring hazing as a criminal offense

OFFICIALS and members of fraternities involved in hazing rituals face life imprisonment under a bill declaring such act as criminal offense.

“We should make all hazing a crime with penalties ranging from fines to life imprisonment, depending on the seriousness of the hazing incident,” said Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Party-list, Bagong Henerasyon), author of House Bill 6084, said.

However, exempted from the coverage of the bill are the physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the physical, mental and psychological
fitness of prospective regular members of the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Also exempted from the coverage are the customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions or any activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective.

Herrera-Dy cited the Lenny Villa hazing case that highlighted a number of issues related to anti-hazing legislation, some of which have already been corrected between the time of the incident and the
Supreme Court’s final ruling.

“This bill incorporates both the suggested corrections by the Supreme Court in the Villa case as well as additional changes based on similarly devastating incidents and subsequent legislation in the United States,” Herrera-Dy said.

Under the bill, all hazing activities will be declared illegal, instead of just being regulated under the present law.

“This proposed legislation opens perpetrators up to civil, as well as criminal, liability for their participation in hazing activities and ensures that perpetrators are vulnerable to the most severe criminal liability available, either through this Act or an alternate criminal penalty calling for even more severe punishment,” Herrera-Dy said.

Under the bill, hazing was defined as an intentional, knowing, or reckless act by a person acting along or acting with others that is directed against an individual and that the person knew or should have known, endangers the physical health or safety of the individual.

Hazing includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing the individual into violating the law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance.

Furthermore, hazing includes other forced physical activity that subjects the individual to an unreasonable risk of harm or that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the individual.

It also includes “any activity that would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced confinement in a small space, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct
that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the individual.”

The hazing results in death, rape, sodomy or mutilation, a penalty of life imprisonment shall be imposed.  Violators face 17 to 20 years imprisonment if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall become
insane, imbecile, impotent or blind.

Violators also face the penalty of 14 to 17 years imprisonment if the victim shall have lost the use of speech or the power to hear or to smell, or shall have lost an eye, a hand, a foot, an arm or a leg.

Likewise, if the victim shall have become deformed or shall have lost any other part of his body, or shall have lost the use thereof, or shall have been ill or incapacitated rendering the victim not fit to
work for a period more than 90 days, the penalty on the guilty party shall be 12 to 14 years.

The bill, on a graduated scale, also impose penalties down to the short period of six months  and one day and a penalty of not more than P50,000 if in consequence of the hazing the victim did not sustain and
was not subjected to substantial risk or physical injury or death.

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