Violence must end

By Joshua Corcuera

The case of John Matthew Salilig, a Chemistry student from Adamson University who died due to alleged hazing, is the 58th recorded death of someone due to hazing since 1954.

For context, Salilig has been reported to be a member of the Zamboanga chapter of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity. He was then reported to have joined the Adamson chapter of the same organization and attended the welcoming rites thereof. Unfortunately, the student was reported to have received at least 70 hits during the initiation rites. Consequently, he was unable to survive the violent activity. He was then buried in a secluded area in Imus, Cavite, and was reported missing on February 18.

In an official statement last February 28, Adamson University confirmed Salilig’s passing. “We are one with his family and friends in grieving this unexpected and unfortunate loss,” the statement read. Furthermore, the San Marcelino-based school assured the public that it will cooperate with authorities in regard to the unfortunate incident.

Based on these facts, there is no doubt that fraternity-related violence continues to exist despite the existence of an anti-hazing law. Obviously, any violent act is illegal and unethical and, therefore, must be condemned especially if lives were lost.

I am hopeful of the future, however, as more people, especially among the youth, are taking a bold stand against violence, including those within fraternities such as hazing. Last Friday, March 3, hundreds of students from Adamson gathered at the university’s Saint Vincent Grounds to demand an end to fraternity-related violence. Loud shouts of “Kapatiran, hindi karahasan!” resonated throughout the movement.

Moreover, it is not only within the university where such calls are being heard. In social media, people are also questioning the very existence of fraternities per se, with some claiming that there is no benefit to derive from such organizations anyway. Others argue that it is better to be alone than to be in a “brotherhood” where violence is the norm. To be fair, the Constitution assures the right to form societies or associations, provided they are not contrary to law (Art. III, Sec. 8, 1987 Philippine Constitution).

However, freedom entails responsibilities.

It is right and just to demand fraternities to reject all forms of violence within their ranks. Further, the criticisms against fraternities where hazing is involved are valid, because we want assurance that everyone is safe from any kind of harm, whether physical, mental, psychological, and so on. While the Constitution allows the formation of fraternities, the same ensures the safety and well-being of the people.

Hence, in instances where safety is compromised, such as in cases of hazing for example, it is just right to call out the perpetrators of violence and hold them accountable immediately.

Violence must end, justice must be served.

As of writing, Salilig has been laid to rest. May his soul rest in peace. More importantly, may justice be served in a speedy manner against those who committed violence, and may the killers be punished to the full extent of the law.