The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been ordered to conduct a parallel probe into the death of a 24-year-old Adamson University chemical engineering student as Speaker Martin Romualdez offered a P500,000 reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of those responsible, saying that “brothers do not kill brothers.”
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, who is in Geneva, Switzerland on official business, ordered the NBI to conduct its own investigation into the death of John Matthew T. Salilig, even as seven persons of interest were in police custody.
Salilig was dumped in shallow grave in a field in Imus, Cavite after he suffered at least 70 blows in a fraternity initiation.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. extended his condolences to the Salilig family as he called for an end to violence in schools.
“I extend my sympathies to John Matthew Salilig’s family during this extremely difficult time and assure them that justice will be served. John was a child, a brother, a friend, a classmate and a son of this nation, with a bright future ahead of him,” Mr. Marcos said in a statement.
“It is not through violence that we can measure the strength of our brotherhood. There should be no room for violence in our student organizations which our children consider family, and in our schools which they consider their second home,” the President added.
Salilig’s decomposing body was found buried in a shallow grave in Barangay Malagasang I-G in Imus, Cavite on Feb. 28, 10 days after his family reported him missing.
He was believed to have died due to injuries he sustained during initiation rites conducted by alleged members of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.
The victim’s father said seven persons of interest were no in police custody.
Provincial police said they have identified 18 suspects in the case and aimed to file charges against them within the week.
Salilig had told his family on Feb. 17 that he would attend the welcoming rites of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity group in Laguna, his brother said. He was reported missing the next day.
Senators expressed frustration over the fatal hazing, a crime that is already punishable by life imprisonment.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri called on law enforcers to hunt down and arrest the suspects in the hazing.
“Hazing should not be tolerated by any society and we have the laws in place to make sure that it should never happen to hapless young men and women only longing for friendship and camaraderie,” Zubiri said.
He said the barbaric perpetrators should all rot in jail for the rest of their lives.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said that the Anti-Hazing Law should be reviewed.
“In the midst of this new case of hazing, we need to be more proactive and revisit the law to ensure that it is being implemented properly,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said the hazing is a matter of law enforcement.
“The penalties are already very stiff. Hence if there are people still bold enough to violate the Anti-Hazing Law then that means these people do not believe that the law will be applied to them. It is therefore a matter of law enforcement,” Pimentel said.
“Our law enforcers should crack this case and solve it and then file airtight cases against those they have evidence against,” he added.
Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros said hazing “has no place in our society” and that the full extent of the law should be brought down on all those who participated in Salilig’s killing, including those who had knowledge of the crime.
Senator JV Ejercito said fraternities have their benefits, but those conducting hazing must be blacklisted.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa, a former police chief, said fraternities should “police their ranks.”
“I am not for banning fraternities but maybe, fraternities themselves should police their ranks and the school administration is very crucial,” he said. “The police cannot be around everywhere.”