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45 Zamboanga City minors get counseling after gang hazing

The barangay chairperson said the recruiter was only a 17-year-old boy and his recruits were minors, including an 8-year-old boy and some girls.
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines —   Barangay officials in Zamboanga City have provided counseling for at least 45 minors who went though hazing rites over the weekend.
 
The initiation rites were discovered when Barangay Tumaga Chairperson Jacky Lim overheard some parents in a waiting shed talking about recruitment by a certain "fraternity" last Saturday.
 
Lim said she immediately had the reports of recruitment investigated and discovered the hazing of the 45 young recruits took place near a riverbank in her village.
 
The news comes as the National Bureau of Investigation is set to launch a probe into the death of University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio Tomas Castillo III, 22, who was pronounced dead last Sunday allegedly after hazing rites by the Aegis Juris fraternity.
 
 
“I was alarmed because it was not really good. So I called all the parents of the children and the recruiter for a confrontation and dialogue to prevent the recruitment further,” Lim said.
 
Lim said that during the dialogue at the barangay hall on Monday, she found out the recruiter was only a 17-year-old boy and his recruits were minors, including an 8-year-old boy and some girls.
 
She said the recruits were all students. Some of them still had signs of bruising, which, Lim said, suggests the hazing happened on Saturday.
 
The Anti-Hazing Law defines hazing as "an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury."
 
The law, however, is focused on organizations based in schools and universities. 
 
Lim said that the young recruits told her that the "fraternity" started from a simple bonding activity, where the recruiter collected P10 from each of them for a picnic along the river.
 
She said the gang initially used banana stalks in the hazing but later on used a wooden paddle.
 
Lim immediately coordinated with City Social Welfare Officer Socorro Rojas and counseling was held with the parents, the minors and the young recruiter.
 
“Most of the victims claimed they joined just out of curiosity,” Lim said.
 
Lim said she has directed village watchmen to be alert against similar incidents in the village. She also lamented the lifting of a curfew that she said would have kept children from going astray.
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