Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The recent death of John Matthew Salilig, a Catholic student at Adamson University in Manila, has raised the issue of hazing and all those practices such as "initiation rites" to associations, clubs or fraternities, present in schools and universities in the Philippines.
John Matthew Salilig, 24, a chemical engineering student, died after an "initiation rite", marked by practices of physical and psychological violence, of the "Tau Gamma Phi" fraternity, present in several institutes and colleges. Reported missing since February 18, Salilig was found dead in Imus on February 28. Police arrested and charged six of the 14 fraternity members for Salilig's death and the corpse cover-up.
Following the incident, which caused public outcry, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) stigmatized the prevalence of hazing and such practices, noting that they are "simply harmful and cruel, contrary to human dignity ", and that they "should have no place, especially in Catholic learning communities". Urging all parties involved to cooperate with the authorities in investigating the incident and to ensure that justice is done, Sister Marissa Viri, president of CEAP noted: "These atrocious acts in no way represent evangelical values from Catholic education and must be eradicated". "They not only endanger the lives of our students, but also go against our mission to promote solidarity and Catholic education so that it is a process of growth and psychological, cultural and spiritual harmony for our students", she explained.
The Association calls on all its schools and educational institutions to promote a "culture of respect, compassion, inclusion and the centrality of Christ, so that all students can feel safe, accompanied and supported". The hope expressed is that "this tragedy may serve as a reminder of the need for continuous vigilance against all forms of violence and abuse in our institutions", said Sister Viri. In all schools and universities where CEAP members are present, prayer vigils will be held during Lent in solidarity with the family of the victim and the entire Adamson University community. In a press release, Adamson University reiterates its commitment to "protecting the university as a familiar and fruitful space for all, students, teachers, staff, friends and visitors".
It should be noted that, between 1954 and 2023, 66 students were killed in the Philippines as a result of abuse and violence related to initiation parties in student fraternities of all kinds. In 1995, in an attempt to curb the phenomenon, the government adopted a specific law, the Anti-Hazing Act, which prohibits physical violence during initiation rites. The law also provides for life imprisonment but, since then, only one sentence has been handed down, while around 50 cases of student deaths have been recorded. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 9/3/2022)