SC upholds 1st conviction under Anti-Hazing Law

(Supreme Court of the Philippines}

(Supreme Court of the Philippines}

MANILA (Mabuhay) — “The fraternal contract should not be signed in blood, celebrated with pain, marred by injuries, and perpetrated through suffering.”

So goes the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) in the first ever conviction under Republic Act (RA) No. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law, for the death of a hazing victim.

The high court, through the ponencia of Associate Justice Jose Mendoza, affirmed the ruling of the Calamba Laguna Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 36 against Alpa Phi Omega (APO) members Dandy L. Dungo and Gregorio A. Sibal Jr. for the death of hazing victim Marlon Villanueva, a student of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, in January 2006.

Villanueva was a neophyte who was subjected to hazing under initiation rites in Barangay Pansol, Calamba City, Laguna on January 14, 2006. The records of the case show that apart from Dungo and Sibal, there were more or less twenty other unidentified APO members during the rites.

On February 23, 2011, the trial court found Dungo and Sibal guilty of Section 4 of the Anti-Hazing Law, which imposes the penalty of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment) to individuals who participated in the hazing “[i]f the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof.”

The trial court ruled that the prosecution has “undeniably proved” that Villanueva, along with Dungo and Sibal, entered the resort where the initiation rites were conducted and that the petitioners brought the victim to JP Rizal Hospital where the latter was pronounced dead.

The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the trial court’s ruling in 2013, which led Dungo and Sibal to elevate their appeal to the SC.

“[T]here was prima facie evidence of the petitioners’ participation in the hazing because of their presence in the venue…. Because of the uncontroverted prima facie evidence against the petitioners, it was shown that they performed an over act in the furtherance of the criminal design of hazing.

“Not only did they induce the victim to attend the hazing activity, the petitioners also actually participated in it based on the prima facie evidence. These acts are sufficient to establish their roles in the conspiracy of hazing,” the decision read.

The high court said that the Anti-Hazing Law “is a democratic response to the uproar against hazing. It demonstrates that there must, and should, be another way of fostering brotherhood, other than through the culture of violence and suffering. The senseless deaths of these young men shall never be forgotten, for justice is the spark that lights the candles of their graves.” (MNS)

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