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NBI probes on death of law student from ‘hazing injuries’

Upon the order of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is set out to probe on the death of Marc Andrei Marcos, 21, a freshman law student at San Beda College (SBC) Alabang who succumbed to multiple injuries from alleged fraternity hazing or initiation rites in Dasmariñas City, Cavite, according to several news reports.

According to Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, the probe was initiated despite the absence of a request from the family of Marcos.

“It is a heinous crime under the law. In fact that’s non-bailable,” he was quoted saying in an ambush interview with reporters.

The NBI is due to submit an initial report tomorrow.

SBC officials, on the other hand, said in its official statement: “While students cannot be denied the right to associate, San Beda College does not approve or countenance membership in any clandestine organization, which employs as part of its ceremonies or other practices any act that results in injury, imprudence or coercion.”

It also said: “The administration has required every student, as a condition for enrolment, to sign an undertaking not to join fraternities, with a statement of the rule prohibiting membership in these organizations and an enumeration of the reasons for the prohibition.”

“The College will form a panel of inquiry and those found responsible shall, with due process, be excluded from the school,” it added.

Earlier, police authorities from Dasmariñas City confirmed that Marcos died on Monday, July 30, at the De La Salle University Medical Center (DLSUMC).

His body was brought to DLSUMC at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday by three unidentified men and two women identified as Soledad Sanda and Marlen Guadayo. But the three unidentified men left the hospital at once, various sources said.

According to investigation, Marcos, along with other neophytes, went through hazing or initiation rites Saturday at a residential compound in Sitio Bisaya, Lt. Cantimbuhan Street, Barangay Zone 3, Dasmariñas City.

Said investigation also revealed that Sanda, one of the two women who brought Marcos to DLSUMC, got a text message from someone named “Gean,” confirming that he has already reported the incident to police authorities.

Sanda and Guadayo, after giving statements to the police, were later released.

Senior Superintendent John Bulalacao, also the police director of Cavite, said he scolded Superintendent Ulysses Cruz of Dasmarinas City police for having failed to act right away on the case, to think that the unidentified persons who brought the body to the hospital had already shown suspicious behavior.

It turned out from further investigation that “Gean” is Gian Angelo Veluz, a fourth year SBC law student and a resident of Lt. Cantimbuhan.

“Allegedly, Soledad Sanda and Marlen Guadayo are cooks of the Veluz family at their farm located (in) Dasmariñas. These ladies could no longer be found,” Bulalacao was quoted saying in news reports.

According to Senior Superintendent Bernabe Balba, regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 4A, filed before the prosecutor’s office in Dasmariñas City were charges on the violation of the Anti-Hazing Law against Veluz, Sanda, and Guadayo.

Police has now launched manhunt operations for said suspects.

Several members of the Lex Leonum fraternity, said to have participated in the hazing incident, were already identified, according to Balba.

However, he explained that no arrest has been made yet.

Marcos’ death came five months after the death of Marvin Reglos, another SBC law student who also died from multiple injuries inflicted during the initiation rites of Lambda Rho Beta fraternity. The night Reglos was brought to Unciano Medical Center, two suspects were also arrested.

Marcos was also an AB Legal Management student at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters who just graduated in March 2012.

Anti-Hazing Law

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III repeated his call to strengthen the Republic Act No. 8049, more known as Anti-Hazing Law.

He filed Bill No.3131, early this year, according to previous reports, which seeks to amend the Anti-Hazing Law, saying that penalty for those involved in hazing should automatically be life imprisonment regardless of the condition of the victim.

According to Section 4 of the current Anti-Hazing Law, officers and members of the fraternity, sorority, or organization proven to have actually participated in the infliction of physical harm to another person shall be liable as principals, with several penalties ranging from  prison correccional in its maximum period of four years, two months, and one day to six years if the victim sustains “physical injuries which do not prevent him from engaging in his habitual activity or work nor require medical attendance,” to a maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment if there is death, rape, sodomy, or mutilation involved.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, however, believes it is law enforcement that should be addressed, saying the Anti-Hazing Law is enough and need not be changed.