Seeking justice

Seeking justice - Jan Villarosa

Last June 30, De La Salle College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB) sophomore Guillo Cesar Servando and three others were picked up along Taft Avenue on a regular Saturday afternoon. They returned beaten and bruised to a condominium situated a few meters away from De La Salle University, one that houses many of the University’s own students. Servando’s three companions were later rushed to the hospital, but it was too late for him. He was found dead on arrival.

Though this may sound extreme, it is not an isolated case as the Philippines is no stranger to hazing-related deaths. One or two deaths due to hazing are reported by the PNP annually, with the last to make waves coming in 2012 when two San Beda College law students perished due to the injuries that they sustained. This is not a new problem as well, with the country’s earliest fraternity-related death occurring in 1954 when an aspirant of Upsilon Sigma Phi passed away, the same fraternity currently implicated in another case of violent hazing in the University of the Philippines (UP).

Perhaps the reason Servando’s case has caused such an uproar, especially within our community, is because it happened so close to our University. A student could have easily passed him on the street right before he met his fate. A friend could have been on that same elevator as he was dying. It happened right under our noses and we had no idea.

Among students, it is no secret that fraternities exist in and around our University. Members and aspirants of fraternities claim that they gain a multitude of benefits, but they are often associated with violence above all. The silent response and the lack of action against these violent fraternities condones their existence and has ultimately led to Servando’s death.

But now there is a newfound clamor for action.

Our country comes from a past that is riddled with fraternity-related deaths and violence, but must we wait for another death before something is done? Whether the answer is to regulate or completely abolish these fraternities, the call for action is clear.

Ironically speaking, the administration is doing its best to administer strict regulations on students, but some major slips and misses still occur often enough that heinous acts like these occur. Fraternities are ramping up their practices, changing the way that they work in a society that is fast evolving with new technology and vigilant measures being set up to ensure safety among the youth.

Do these non-fraternity contracts still mean anything or are they just for show? For a school that fosters the arts and camaraderie through student organizations, it is unfortunate that some are still pushed to join fraternities, attracted by the “fraternal bond” and “protection” that these institutions may offer.

Republic Act No. 8094 states that the penalty for those who participate in a hazing ritual that results to the death of a neophyte shall receive life imprisonment. It makes everyone wonder why these hazings still go on despite the stiff penalty. However, the bigger concern is whether universities, through the laws and provisions of the government, can actually protect their students and at the same reassure the parents of the safety of their children within the vicinity of the area.

As we move on with our lives, will the death of Guillo Cesar Servando be just another statistic or will it be the one that actually puts an end to this madness? For the institutions that are supposed to protect us, it is time to step up to the plate.

The LaSallian

By The LaSallian

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