MANILA - A lawmaker on Monday said Congress might define hazing as a heinous crime following the death of a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet.
Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has called for a legislative investigation into the death of PMA cadet Darwin Dormitorio, who he said died of cardiac arrest due to internal hemorrhage, citing the PMA's doctor.
"There is a possibility we will elevate this into a heinous crime. Although right now the penalty already is reclusion perpetua plus P3 million fine in case death occurs," he told ANC's Early Edition.
"The difference will be first they will not be eligible for good conduct time allowance. They will have to serve the entire life imprisonment that will be meted to them. Because it seems the new law last year did not deter people like in the case of the PMA."
The parents of slain law freshman Horacio Castillo III over the weekend urged lawmakers to make hazing a heinous crime.
"I’m asking our mambabatas natin maybe include hazing as a heinous crime already. Patuloy na dini-disregard siya eh, maybe kailangan nang gawing heinous siya. Maybe it will deter," Horacio's mother Carmina Castillo told radio DZMM.
Rodriguez also urged PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista to step down and give the post to "someone who can stop" the tradition of hazing.
"There is command responsibility here. A young person who wishes to become a military officer and do good service to the country. All the dreams of Darwin has died with him," he said.
"It cannot be that he would not know. He would hear, they’re military already they would have intelligence."
The lawmaker called for an independent investigation to be conducted by the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.
"We should go to the very top and those faculty members. It cannot happen without the knowledge of even the advisers," he said.
The PNP on Sunday said it was already considering as suspects the three third class cadets who were earlier identified as persons of interest in the death of Dormitorio.
The PMA, meantime, said it was ready to file criminal and administrative charges against those liable for Dormitorio's death.
Filipino soldiers do not need to undergo hazing to form camaraderie, Rodriguez said.
"Brotherhood mentality should always be there. You are loyal to the Filipino people, because you are the protector. What is this kalokohan that you have to be hit, you have to be hospitalized," he said.
"The way to have camaraderie is to be together, eating together, sharing together."