House OKs new anti-hazing bill on third and final reading

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 22) — The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a new bill banning hazing and making initiation rites of fraternities, sororities, organizations safer for recruits.

House Bill No. 6573, filed by the House Justice Committee on October 2017, seeks to repeal Republic Act No. 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law.

The bill prohibits all forms of hazing, which it defines as any reckless act that "would endanger the physical health or safety" of an individual resulting to membership in any organization.

The measure also gave provisions on regulating initiation rites.

"Only initiation rites or practices that do not inflict direct or indirect physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury to the recruit, neophyte, or applicant...shall be allowed," it said.

A faculty adviser is also required to monitor the initiation activities.

An inter-agency committee against hazing, composed of members from different educational and law-enforcing agencies, is also created.

The bill penalizes violators with 20 years up to life imprisonment or a fine of up to P1-million, if a hazing rite leads to death, suicide, rape, sodomy, or mutilation. The current anti-hazing law does not include the minimum year of prison time and the fine.

Other penalties will be imposed for lesser violations.

The filing of the bill follows the hazing death of University of Santo Tomas freshman law student Horacio "Atio" Castillo in the hands of Aegis Juris Fraternity members on September 2017.