BLIND SPOT: Haze in Hazing


It commonly comes in the form of paddling. It may also be done in servitude, public humiliation, tough tasks and other initiation procedures too complicated to discuss. National news recently has been focused on the case of fraternity pledgee, Atio Castillo who unfortunately failed to survive initiation rites. The public is swept with sympathy for the victim and condemnation for the perpetrators, including members of the UST fraternity with a name which is a combination of a popular local band and a similarly popular local singer who used to front an acoustic band. The initiators have been branded as “killers” (www.gmanetwork.com), “criminals” (https://www.rappler.com), members of a “false brotherhood:” (newsinfo.inquirer.net), and a cause of cries and grief of a golden retriever (https://philnews.ph.) Okay, let’s get things straight. “Killers”; Castillo was declared dead on arrival at the Chinese General Hospital and was said to have “died of a massive heart attack possibly due to the injuries he suffered after alleged hazing rites”. (www.gmanetwork.com) The victim died due to “massive heart attack” which is a response of his own body. Although, external forces may and in this case, definitely lead to a person’s body’s cardiac arrest. These external forces may or may not be intended to cause a massive heart attack. So, were the initiators killers? As in persons who execute the act of killing? “Criminals”; according to RA 8049 An Act Regulating Hazing And Other Forms Of Initiation Rites In Fraternities, Sororities, And Other Organizations And Providing Penalties Therefor, or more commonly known as Anti-Hazing Law, “Sec. 4. If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals.” Since Castillo died from supposed fraternity initiation rites, there is basis in the label, “criminals”. therefore, “False Brotherhood”; this may be subjective to definitions of parameters of truth and falsehood. Does the death of a pledgee constitute “falsehood”? or diminish their value and practice of brotherhood? Cause of cries and grief of a pet dog; well, there is high probability that the dog cries for the loss of his master, or another possibility is the stressful activities in a household. In any case, it would be fallacious to credit this incident to the fraternity. You may hurl stones at me for this, but here goes. The victim was not involuntarily gunned down by persons trespassing at his personal abode. The victim was not unwillingly abducted to be the subject of physical harm. The victim was not deceived or tricked into going to a particular place and unexpectedly received physical harm. The person in question (as well as other fraternity hazing victims) willingly, presumably without coercion, agreed to be physically present at a certain place and on a certain date and time for initiation rites in which they may not have complete awareness of all details of its proceedings, but certainly they have the awareness that this activity which they will be subjected to, will involve some physical harm. What I’m saying is, under this national wave of sympathy for the victim and the past victims, and this renewed indignation against fraternity hazing, the remarkable thing about this crime is that the victim willingly subjects himself to this “crime”. Kian de los Santos did not willingly invite police officers to engage him in violence. Carl Arnaiz did not agree to enter in a stabbing spree. Michael Angelo Remecio did not attend an orientation session and sign up to receive some death inducing beating. Fraternity neophytes and pledgees willingly, without coercion, out of their own disposition, agree to publicly acknowledged and expected violent initiation rites. In fact, in this particular case, Castillo’s parents were very aware that their son was involved in fraternity initiations. “In an interview, the victim’s mother, Carmina Castillo, said their son informed them he was invited to join a fraternity . He told them the initiation was already over and the welcome event, an overnight drinking session, will be held on Saturday at UST.” (www.gmanetwork.com); a petition for consent based on information which is not entirely true. Now, is the brotherhood false? Maybe the victims perhaps have not been entirely true themselves? In most crimes, the victim’s personal space is invaded by the criminals. In most crimes, the victim is unwillingly and forcibly subjected to the act that is the crime. In most crimes, the victim does not willingly go to a potentially violent event. In a fraternity hazing, a neophyte willingly subjects himself to this crime which would not have happened had he not entered into an agreement in an initiation process, in the first place. Fraternity initiators will impose the process on whomever willingly approves to undergo it. It may not be righteous; it may not be morally acceptable; it may be illegal; but that is the nature of such a social institution. If any male college student or his family or his friends do not like this nature, by all means flee from them. If you don’t want your shoes to be smudged with mud, don’t step on the mud. But the matter of the fact is victims willingly subject themselves to it and in some cases parents have knowledge of it, and when things go unfavorable, they cry out injustice. “Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.” Proverbs 4:15