A History of Violence
(Blogger's Note: the anti-PD 1017 rallies showed me that members of rival fraternities can come together in one place not to make "gulo" but to fight as ONE for what they believe in.)
published in Youngblood, PDI, January of 2006.
It was past six in the evening and my class in criminal procedure had just ended. My group mates and I decided to do some late night fieldwork. A male classmate walked up to us and asked if he can go with us. He explained discreetly, “Merong gulo”. Looking over his shoulder, I noticed that there were indeed male students quietly conferring in groups. Fratmen. Then I understood that my classmate only wanted to avoid the impending trouble brewing between his fraternity and some rival, similarly Greek letter named fraternity.
I am not and never had been a member of any fraternity or any organization which uses initiation rites or have the habit of making war with other similarly-oriented organizations. I almost do not care if members of fraternities beat up one another in their glorified sense of brotherhood. I do not want to get into trouble. But the problem here is that non-fraternity members sometimes are caught up in their rumbles and frat wars. We also become victims, as much as members of fraternities become casualties in their own culture of violence and corruption.
Who was it that said "Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence." I prefer to write than to make a lonely protest rally around the school campus and secretly put up posters denouncing fraternity violence. I feel that I would be alone when the time comes members of fraternities get a wind of my defiance against them. In any case, whatever adverse action they take against me will only confirm what I write although I must say that I am only against those members of fraternities who do or espouse acts of violence in pursuit of their brotherhood. I am not saying all members are guilty of violence. My male classmate for one thing avoids trouble and even makes friends with members of other fraternities. But I believe that victims of fraternity-related violence deserve to be heard over the noise of frat wars and empty, brotherhood rhetoric.
I remember how a poor scholar-student met a violent death at the hands of allegedly hired killers just because he was mistakenly identified as a member of a rival fraternity. He was just sitting on a bench, unfortunately near a fraternity tambayan, safe in the thought of not having to worry about fratmen targeting him since he had no affiliation with any fraternity. He was wrong. Recently, a grandson of a high-ranking politician died in the course of his initiation rites. This semester alone, there had been a rise of fraternity-related assaults on campus both on “brods” and non-members, again cases of mistaken identities. Such waste of our nation’s youth.
Some officers of the accused fraternities were suspended by virtue of the Anti-Hazing Law. At least the legislators had finally recognized the need for a law making certain fraternity-related acts criminal. But I believe it is still inadequate. The first time I read RA 8049 for criminal law, I had the impression that this is not an effective solution to the prevention of fraternity-related violence and “physically-taxing” initiation rites. This does not prohibit initiation at all. This is not Anti-Hazing at all but only a regulation of the process of initiation in the sense that those who plan to have those rites must first seek permission.
RA 8049 harshly penalizes the actual participants in the initiation when the recruit suffers physical injuries or becomes insane, imbecile, impotent, or blind. The law even imposes reclusion perpetua when death, rape, sodomy or mutilation results from the hazing. This certainly is a long way from those days when there was no law dealing particularly with hazing. But this does not actually prevent fraternities and other organizations from making their recruits go through excruciatingly painful and emotionally draining initiation rites. This law is only a remedy after the acts had only been done, after the recruit had already gone through these violent acts. Fortunate are those who get out of those initiation rites alive and indeed do become a “brod”. How about those who do not survive or those who will become maimed for life? What will years of imprisonment imposed on the perpetrators do to a dead or disabled recruit? Reclusion perpetua or temporal will not take back a recruit’s life or limb.
I believe that one of the best solutions to end fraternity-related violence is for the fraternity alumni themselves to openly denounce the violent actions of their junior “brods”. I think most are in positions of authority who can certainly influence their juniors. It is time for reforms within the fraternities themselves. I often wonder how these august-sounding, Greek letter name organizations had become immersed in the culture of violence. It is time for members of these organizations ask this question, to return to the true sense of brotherhood not just within one fraternity but also among fraternities. Spare us a history of violence. Rewrite and undo it.