Thursday, July 3, 2014

Frat torturers and their victims are weaklings

Philippine Daily Iinquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Servando being dragged by his frat brods-to-be. Courtesy of ABS-CBN
I’ve said it before, I say it again now. It is stupid, katangahan and kabobohan to allow your body to be beaten to a pulp by so-called brothers who had you convinced they will care for you the rest of your life.

Another life, a young and willing victim, has been snuffed out because of fraternity hazing. Guillo Cesar Servando of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde succumbed to body trauma caused by severe beating inflicted by Tau Gamma Phi fratmen in whose exclusive brotherhood he had hoped to belong. Fraternities are banned in the school.

Thanks to a building’s CCTV footage, we got to see the hazing victims staggering in a corridor and dragging on the floor and out of a condo unit their fellow neophyte who was in the throes of death. It was heartbreaking to behold, especially for the families of the tortured, and most especially for the family of Servando who was down on the floor and breathing his last.

I hate to say this to the families who are in shock, but this is how your loved ones who chose disobedience look like. They and their torturers were weaklings pretending to be strong and pretending they didn’t know it. Who taught them that brotherhood is proven by inflicting and receiving cruelty? I am being hurtful and tactless.

Servando could have been saved had his brods brought him straight to the hospital instead of someone’s condo unit where he died. Too late was the call made to Rescue 117 and, as the recording revealed, the caller was far from truthful. They had a drunken spree, he lied.

There is a law against hazing and hazers but there is none against masochists. I wish there were a law that would punish also the hazing survivors who inflict suffering on their families, for participating in the perpetuation of violence. Someday they will themselves become torturers. Better nip evil in the bud. All those who died these past many years, had they survived, would by now probably be torturers themselves. You call that “paying forward.”

A couple of years ago I wrote a column titled “Hazing victims, willing victims” to painfully rub it in that victims, would-be victims and their families “had it coming,” that the dead are partly to blame for their own deaths. It is not nice to blame the dead. But things need to be said. Again and again.

One thing different in Servando’s case is that he was hesitant to undergo hazing, a friend of his revealed, and that there was a threat of harm if he backed out. Unlike the victims in recent years who willingly walked into the valley of death to receive a volley of blows, Servando—if his friend’s account is true—had second thoughts. It was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. He chose to be beaten. How cool is that?

You wouldn’t hear bereaved families admit that their dear departed were willing victims so that they could warn other gullible students from following in their footsteps to the torture chamber. Families blame “the brotherhood,” the hazers who are alive and wield paddles, whips and dos por dos in the name of fraternity and loyalty. They who had once been brutalized themselves and eager to exhibit their own brand of cruelty. But as they say, there are no sadists where there are no masochists. And the cycle goes on.

Among those who had spent time in the ICU and lived, had anyone come forward to admit he was waylaid and then severed ties with the so-called brotherhood? Ex-cultists who survived with soupy brains have done better by exposing to the world thought control and the other “spiritual come-ons” that ruined them.

The grieving should go beyond extolling the virtues of their dear departed and lamenting the dreams that were laid to waste. They should do more than just blame the “brothers.” They should go out there and plead to the bright but gullible young—in the strongest, un-coolest words—that it is stupid, a sign of weakness, to allow oneself to be beaten like chicken pinikpikan.

Doctors have become tired explaining why a hazing victim succumbed—multiple organ failure, internal hemorrhage, heart attack. Psychologists explain the whys—need to belong, false sense of brotherhood, etc. The police tell the media the where, what, when, how.

But can more lives be saved? There seems to be a lack of early warning devices in the media and in schools. The more graphic and out-of-the-box, the better, portraying hazing as uncool, cowardly, sadistic and masochistic. What about a corpse in the morgue on tarps? Something like “Yosi Kadiri.”

Several years ago, the revered Sen. Jovito Salonga publicly announced his resignation from his University of the Philippines Sigma Rho fraternity after a neophyte died because of hazing.

Some frats with mysterious-sounding Greek-letter names are known for their supposed brotherhood that goes beyond university and into their legal and political careers, even allegedly influencing their decisions, right or wrong. Some law-school frats are named after their school symbols. Top predators like the eagle, the lion. There is Ateneo’s Aquila Legis and San Beda Lex Leonum Fraternitas. Both have figured in hazing deaths.

Speaking of eagles and lions, these amazing wild creatures are true to their essence: They consume only what they need, they protect and nurture their young.

Our young are falling prey to and are being devoured by their quest for power via a brotherhood that is fake.

The Anti-Hazing Law is there, but it has not served as a deterrent, as evidenced by the deaths. The law is only punitive. Life imprisonment for the guilty, thank you. Parents who lost sons numbly stagger out of the courtroom and let out the sad refrain, “Nothing will bring them back to life.” #