By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday said there is no need to amend laws to make hazing a heinous crime.
Under Republic Act No 11053, Zubiri said, hazing could be considered equal to other heinous crimes since a person convicted of violating the law is meted with the highest penalty imposed in the country.
Proposals to declare hazing as a heinous crime were floated following the death of 20-year-old Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet Darwin Dormitorio due to hazing.
The hazing incident happened despite a stronger Anti-Hazing Law signed last year, which penalizes with reclusion perpetua and a fine of P3 million those who planned and participated in the hazing if it resulted in the death, rape, sodomy, or mutilation.
While previous and existing laws do not explicitly identify hazing as a heinous crime, Zubiri noted that RA 11053 already imposes the highest form of penalty to those convicted of hazing.
“A perusal of RA 11053, there is no express provision stating that hazing is heinous crimes. However, with the imposition of reclusion perpetua if hazing results to death, and with the definition of heinous crimes under Republic Act 7659, plus the fact that reclusion perpetua is the highest imposable penalty, absence of death penalty, we can consider that the strengthened anti-hazing law considers the crime as heinous one,” Zubiri said in a statement.
The Senate majority leader cited the abolished RA 7659, which imposed in 1993 the death penalty for certain heinous crimes. The law stipulated that “the crimes punishable by death under this Act are heinous for being grievous, odious, and hateful offenses and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society.”
Zubiri also pointed out that the death penalty law was passed ahead of the Republic Act 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995, “thus at the time we have enumerated heinous crimes, there is no anti-hazing law yet.”
On Sunday, Zubiri said since Congress already strengthened the country’s Anti-Hazing Law, “It is now up to the authorities to perform their duties and apprehend the perpetrators.”