Culture of violence
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2015 - 10:00am

This is another case of hazing which happened even after the enactment of the Anti Hazing Law (RA 8049) in 1995. While said law aims to show that “there must and should be another way of fostering brotherhood other than through the culture of violence and suffering,” several senseless deaths of young men still occurred thereafter, like in this case of Randy.

Randy was a BS Agricultural Economics student at the UP-Los Banos. He was staying in a dormitory located in one of the subdivisions near the school. Staying with him as his room-mate for almost two years was his close friend, Jimmy. On Jan. 9, 2006, Randy introduced to Jimmy another school mate, Danny. Randy said that he and Danny was scheduled for final initiation rites on Jan. 13, 2006 as members of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity.

On said day, at around 3 p.m., an incident happened at UPLB Biological Science Building in the tambayan of Symbiosis UPLB Biological Society as witnessed by Gina, a food technology student. Gina noticed three men seated two meters away from her and identified two of them as Tony and Alex. They were wearing black shirts with the logo of APO. Later at 5 p.m. two more men arrived, and with heads bowed approached Tony, Alex and the other man in black shirt. One of them was Randy who was carrying a five-gallon water container. Tony then stood up and asked Randy why the latter did not report to him when he was just at their tambayan. Tony then punched Randy twice, but the latter just kept quiet with his head bowed. Fifteen minutes later, all the men left.

At around 8 or 9 p.m. of the same day, Ana, an owner of a sari-sari store barely ten meters in front of a resort, located in a barrio at the nearby City of Calamba, while tending her store saw a jeepney arrived at the resort transporting more than 20 persons, male and some female. Ana later on when called to testify, identified Tony as the person seated beside the driver. She estimated the ages of these persons in the group to be between 20 to 30 years old. They were in civilian clothes with some of them wearing white long-sleeved shirts. Before entering the resort, the men and women shook hands and embraced each other. Three others later on arrived in a motorcycle.

Then Ana saw about 15 persons gather on top of the terrace of the resort as if they were praying. After that the lights of the resort were turned off. Later that evening at least three of these persons went to her store to buy some items. During her testimony she was shown photographs and she identified Alex as one of them. It was only in the morning when she learned from the policemen that one of them died who was identified as Randy.

At around 3 a.m. the following day, a tricycle driver, by the name of Nato plying the barrio route was approached by a man who informed him that someone inside the resort needed a ride. So he went to the resort. Then he saw three men in their 20’s carrying another man, who looked very weak, like a vegetable going towards his tricycle. When he touched the body of said man it was already cold. When he asked the others what happened to the man, they replied that he had too much to drink. Then they instructed him to go to the hospital where the unconscious man was brought to the emergency room. It was only several days later when Nato learned that the man had died.

The two security guards at the hospital who saw the two men brought the body asked them to sign the logbook. They asked them to sign the logbook and did not allow them to leave. Instead they called the police station so that an investigation can be conducted and reported the incident to the police. When one of them, SG Brand later on testified, he identified the two persons as Tony and Alex. He asked the two about what happened but they invoked their right to remain silent.

Upon verification, the police learned from the owner of the resort that there were indeed UPLB students who rented the resort from 9:30 in the evening of Jan. 13, 2006 to 7 a.m. the next day.

The hospital attending physician who had experience in treating hazing victims, and the medico legal officer of the PNP who conducted the post mortem examination both concluded that based on the nature, extent and location of the injuries, the victim, who was identified as Randy, died because of hazing.

So Alex and Tony was accused of the crime of violating Section 4, R.A. 8049, for willfully and feloniously assaulting and using personal violence against Randy during a planned initiation rite in conspiracy with more or less 20 other officers and members whose identity is not yet known, thereby subjecting him to physical harm, resulting in his death.

Both Tony and Alex denied the charge and raised alibi as their defense. Tony said that he was with his girlfriend that evening and slept at her boarding house until he received a call from Alex at 2 a.m. the following day. Alex on the other hand claimed that the initiation was actually called off when they noticed that Randy was already bruised and battered by others whom he could not identify.

But after trial, the RTC found both guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced both to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. It did not believe their denial and alibi as they were self-serving and there were no credible and disinterested witnesses who substantiated them. Only the girlfriend of Tony and the fraternity brothers corroborated their stories. The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed this decision. Are the RTC and the CA correct?

Yes. Hazing is the practice of physically or emotionally abusing newcomers to an organization as a means of initiation. It can be classified into various categories including, but not limited to, acts of violence, acts of humiliation, sexual-related acts, and alcohol-related acts The physical form of hazing may include beating,branding, paddling, excessive exercise, drinking, and using drugs. Sexual hazing have included simulated sex acts, sodomy and forced kissing. Moreover, hazing does not only result in physical injuries and hospitalization, but also lead to emotional damage and traumatic stress.

In this case, aside from inducing Randy to attend the initiation rites and their presence during the hazing, their guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt by the sequence of circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution. Their involvement in the hazing of Randy is not merely based on prima facie evidence but was also established by circumstantial evidence as testified to by the prosecution witnesses who narrated several circumstances showing that not only did they induce the victim to attend the hazing activity but also participated in it. (Dungo and Sibal, Jr. vs. People, G.R. 209464, July 1, 2015)

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