REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8049

BY: JUSEPH ELAS


An Act Regulating Hazing and Other Forms of Initiation Rites in Fraternities, Sororities, and Other Organizations and Providing Penalties Therefore
There are several concepts that must be considered in understanding the law; (1) the law recognizes initiation as a prerequisite for admission in a group, therefore (2) allowing initiation rites provided the organization that wishes to conduct such act to adhere with the rules and regulations provided by the law. Also (3) misconception regarding the definition of the word organization must be clarified.

What is R.A. 8049?

It is an act regulating hazing and other forms of initiation rites in fraternities, sororities, and other organizations. While it is true that the Act allows initiation as it recognizes its importance, the act also provides that the initiation must be regulated. “What is absolutely prohibited is the employment of physical violence in hazing.” (Nicolas & De Vera Law Offices)

Hazing, as defined by the authors of the act, is any actions whereby a neophyte or applicant is subjected in some embarrassing or humiliating situations. In addition, these “humiliating situation” can range from forcing a neophyte to do menial or silly things, to any foolish act.

By definition, organization pertains to any group of people that is driven by a common goal or objective. The group has the autonomy in terms of its actions and in handling its members. However, the Act puts an exception to certain groups; “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 Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as approved and duly recommended by appropriate officials.” (Aguinaldo, 2005)

As mentioned, R.A. 8049 is an act that regulates the damages that may occur due to irresponsible hazing acts. Therefore, the author (current Sen. Miram Defensor-Santiago) laid out rules and regulations to ensure that corporal damage/s is/are mitigated.

The following must be present:

1. The organization must secure a written notice to the school authorities at least seven (7) days before the conduct of the initiation;
2. The period of the initiation shall not exceed three (3) days;
3. The names and ages of those to be initiated must be included;
4. An undertaking that no physical violence must be employed by anybody during the initiation rites;
5. The head of the schools or his representative must assign at least two (2) representatives of the school to be present in the initiation with the duty to see to it that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted;
6. The place where the initiation is conducted.

Any violation of these, and if proven guilty, the violator may be sentenced either of the following:
  1. Reclusion Perpetua
  2. Reclusion Temporal
  3. Prison Coreccion
  4. Prison Mayor

The Case of Marc Andrei Marcos
            
Marc Andrei Marcos was a freshmen law student of the San Beda College who passed away on July 30, 2012 after suffering from several cardiac arrest in the emergency room of the hospital he was brought. Marcos arrived without vital signs, heart rate, respiratory and blood pressure, according to the attending doctor. He died due to multiple organ failure caused by hematoma.

Marcos was, allegedly, hazed by the organization named Lex Leonum Fraternitas, a fraternity of the College of Law, San Beda. However, San Beda denounced the group saying it does not belong in the list of recognized organizations of the university.
Media Involvement in the case

The case of Marcos was made known through the media. The first news was released on July 30 following Marcos’ death. The media was very careful in reporting the case as charges were filed to the court  in the prosecutor’s office in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

First, the media made it clear in their reports that this is a “suspected” and/or “alleged” hazing case. The family and doctors who assisted Marc Andre Marcos said so because of the overwhelming evidences present (e.g. corporal wounds in the victim’s body and the CCTV footage taken near the cock-breeding farm owned by primary suspect, Gian Veluz).

Second, the media was very specific in reporting only the facts. They reported about what caused the death of Marcos, they reported on equal sides; hearing the side of Marcos’ family, the family of Veluz and other suspects, and the side of San Beda. They were also very specific in naming initial names of those who are involved in the hazing. The naming of names was a very crucial stage in the case for this might cause further trouble once proven that a name is not involved in the case. So far, no media outfit was sued for libel and serious damage for disclosing names.

The details of the initiation rite were also carefully reported. The details of the rite came from a source, whose identity the media did not disclosed due to security reasons, that recounted how Marcos was paddled after failing to give the right answer to questions he was prompted; how Marcos fell on the ground and lost consciousness. Details like these are very crucial in solving the case and so the media, reporting on good faith, only disclosed what the court would allow them to disclose and only the facts of the case.

Moreover, the media did not injected opinions in their reportage as this might alter the proceedings and may be called a trial by publicity. And so, very clearly, the media reported only the actions being done by the police authorities to solve the case, the actions being done by the family to have the justice for their loss, and the actions done by the court.

At the latter part of this story, the media reported about 32 San Beda law students being charge for a violation of the R.A. 8049. Surprisingly, the media named all of the suspects. Now, this is okay because the media did not condemn these people, as, during that time, they are still suspects. Also, the naming of the students is also okay because the media was reporting on good faith. Moreover, probably, they were allowed by the prosecutor’s office to disclose the identity of these accused.

Again, the San Beda College has all the right to sue any media outfit for always tracing the Lex Leonum Fraternitas with the said university. The university has already said that Lex Leonum Fraternitas is not an authorized organization of the university and they denounced the group. However, the media kept on pointing San Beda for a reason; the group may not be an authorized group of the university but its members are students of the College of Law, San Beda College Mendiola, Manila. Again, what the media did was reported on good faith; meaning they only reported the facts, which completely eradicated chances of them being sued for libel and serious damage.
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