HAZING: end life or end rites?

While it is every medical practitioner’s pledge to save and care for human lives, on the other side of the coin there are also those who succumbed into the unjust practices of impunity and hazing— an act of violence and disrespect for human life.

Just this year, seven Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets were allegedly involved in the act of hazing which took the life of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio. It was reported that Dormitorio sustained serious internal injuries due to the beatings set as part of the initiation rites which lead to his death. Aside from the physical abuse which Dormitorio endured, it was evident that he also faced humiliation and psychological abuse based on several videos that has surfaced in various social media websites.

In 2017, Horacio Castillo, a University of Santo Tomas law student, suffered the same ordeal as Dormitorio did. This incident prompted members of the congress to revisit and strengthen the then existing anti-hazing law of 1995.

Under the ammended law, Republic Act No. 11053 or Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 provides that hazing refers to any act that results to physical or psychological abuse of a certain individual as part of the initiation rites made before he/she is admitted into an organization. Unlike the old law which only regulates hazing, the Anti-Hazing law of 2018 has prohibited hazing and toughened the new law by providing harsher penalties.

However, the new law has yet to prove its full force once justice will come right off those who perpetuated this unlawful rites.

Despite the stricter measures set by the law, this so called ‘tradition’ still infiltrates various sectors of the society risking the lives of individuals seeking for prestige, ‘honor’, and admission to the brotherhood. But, are these things worth seeking in exchange for human life? Is there really honor in participating in this culture of violence?

Violence is a vicious cycle. It creeps into the minds of vulnerable victims and as in the case of those who have survived the gruesome rites, this twisted belief that violence is necessary to prove brotherhood and loyalty unto an organization will remain unchanged. Unfortunately, this will continue to torment many until another individual’s life and dreams will be ceased again.

Truth be told, it is not only Dormitorio or the other victim’s lives and dreams that were stolen but so are the dreams of their families, friends, and beloved ones. It should also be noted that the lives lost is also a loss for the society as a whole. These people could have been catalysts of change and bearers of justice but lost to individuals who have twisted beliefs.

Some people nowadays forget what it’s like to be human— to respect and preserve life. If the law clearly states that torture and murder are heinous crimes which are by the way the core of hazing, why are these unjust practices still present?

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