Sorsogon student dies in suspected hazing incident

<i>Photo: Sorsogon Provinicial Information Office / FB</i>
Photo: Sorsogon Provinicial Information Office / FB

A 23-year-old college student died after sustaining injuries from alleged hazing rites in Sorsogon’s Bulan town, local police said last night.

According to a statement sent by Sorsogon Police to Coconuts Manila, Bulan Police Chief Maj. Joel Triñanes said criminology student Omer Despabiladeras was believed to have been hazed along with 17 other pledges of the Solis Institute of Technology by the Tau Gamma Fraternity on Sunday.

The rites started at 10am and ended at around 4pm at the fraternity house in Sitio Banase, in San Vicente Village. Triñanes said Despabiladeras collapsed towards the end of the hazing ritual and was rushed by fraternity members to the Pantaleon Gotladera Memorial Hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.

Despabiladeras had hematomas, a type of blood clot, and bruises on his legs and back. A hospital nurse reported the incident to local police at around 6pm.

Rembrandt Panes Gerolao and Ulysis Bello Berania, the fraternity members who allegedly rushed the victim to the hospital, have been arrested by the police.

Despabiladeras’ body will be autopsied while an investigation into the criminology student’s death is conducted.

Hazing incidents are not uncommon in the Philippines, and despite signing a 2018 amendment to the country’s anti-hazing law, President Rodrigo Duterte has said that there is no way to stop fraternities from physically assaulting neophytes. 

A year before Duterte signed the amendment, 22-year-old law school freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III was found passed out with a blanket over his head on a Manila pavement after being hazed, and was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. Castillo’s case is still being tried, and the 10 fraternity members accused of involvement in his killing remain detained at the Manila City jail, and face up to 40 years in prison if it was proved that Castillo’s hazing resulted to his death.

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