In an initiation party that should welcome brotherhood, John Matthew Salilig, a 24-year old chemical engineering student, met his death at the hands of his supposed "brothers" . And not too long ago, a marine engineering student from the University of Cebu-METC, died last December 2022 due to hazing inflicted by Tau Gamma Phi, the same fraternity where Salilig met his untimely death.

Despite its noble and ambitious principles, one can not deny the harm that these fraternity-related violence (FRV) inflict towards young men in universities, and the two cases mentioned just add to the yearly recorded cases of hazing-related deaths and FRVs across the country. In the last 3 years, there have been over 10 hazing-related deaths, with most of them being Senior High School and College students and involving familiar Greek-letter organizations that have a long history with killing its members.

This leads us to the conversation on why such fraternities continue to exhibit barbaric initiation rites such as a whack on thighs with a hardwood paddle, conforming into an archaic culture of violence, void of what brotherhood really is. The bottomline of it all? Parents lost a child, a person lost a friend, dreams were cut short, and more fratmen will pay the price to their graves.

The rites of passage for neophytes to be considered as true “brothers” such as undergoing pain and humiliation, sows the seed of savagery into the heart of a fratman. Some believe that this would enculture a sense of strength that would be crucial to shape future members, but ironically, this impinged physical brutality only forges fraternities to lose sight of their lofty ideals, becoming gangs that abates the righteousness that fraternities used to establish.

With the pandemonium attached to the fraternity communities, RA 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 exists to prohibit the initiation rites conducted by such organizations; a solution which came after the death of Leonardo Villa in 1991, deemed to prevent succeeding fratmen deaths. However, despite the intervention of the law and authority, there’s still hazing here and there.

The 'traditional' violence involved in these fraternities is something that we, non-frat members, could not fully grasp on. Similarly, those who join these so-called "brotherhood" remain meek and complicit to the cruelty of the institutions they belonged to, without the obvious questioning of why this is a requirement.

With that being said, this could only start with the intervention of universities to vigorously monitor the organization's existing in the campuses, and if needed, to extend outside of the four walls of the classroom since that is where most of the hazing happens. In hindsight, the notion of banning these practices and eliminating these organizations could either be the good or bad, depending on how these fraternities would act on it which history has proven us that they are brave enough to be oblivious to the consequences of their actions. Rather, to nurture a shift in their ideals that true brotherhood does not have to be inhuman and they should comply with the very high purpose of why fraternities existed in the first place, would be a good way to start.

Knowing the Philippine justice system, hazing death cases in the past have never met their deserved justice; or at least if they have, they did not implicate a change in the system. Who knows? Maybe a close friend, a classmate, and a brother will be the next victim, if things do not turn a new leaf.

The life of the victims that are wasted will forever be imprinted on the paddles that took them. Jail will never be enough to let them pay for the price of their crime. Dead men tell no tales, but their death reflects how fraternities need to recalibrate a sense of responsibility with the true purpose of their existence, in a way that blood and flesh will not be the measure of true loyalty and brotherhood.

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