An Inter-Agency Task Force, chaired by the Secretary of Justice, has been created "to address the growing problem of fraternity-related violence." Memorandum Circular No. 68, dated 28 August 2014 but released only recently, was issued by the Office of the President in light of the fact that, "despite the passage of [Republic Act] No. 8049 [otherwise known as the Anti-Hazing Law], hazing-related fatalities continue to occur."
In order to address this persistent problem, the Anti-Hazing Inter- Agency Task Force (AHIATF) has been mandated to "lead government actions and responses in connection with RANo. 8049" and to "develop modes of coordinating and monitoring ... the implementation of programs, projects and activities to prevent hazing fatalities." Among its functions is to "[r]eview and formulate policies, programs, and guidelines to strengthen the implementation of RANo. 8049."
Furthermore, the Secretary of Justice, as Task Force Head, has been "vested with full executive authority within the law," including the authority to "give direct operational instructions to any of the member agencies in the performance of their functions." Such member agencies include the Departments of National Defense (DND) and of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police PNP), the National Youth Commission (NYC), and the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODESLA) of the Office of the President.
Pursuant to this mandate, the Secretary of Justice LEILA M. DE LIMA intends to make rooting out the gaps in the implementation of the law, and perhaps gaps in the law itself, the priority of the AHIATF by bringing in the experience and insights of members of the National Prosecution Service (NPS), in addition to those of the PNP and the investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The first meeting of the AHIATF will be convened sometime next month.
Secretary De Lima also sees great value in seeking the insights and inputs of other stakeholders, including those of school administrators, student organizations and members of the student body themselves, towards the end of preventing and not just solving hazing cases.
"One hazing fatality is already one too many," said Secretary De Lima. "For every such case, more lives are lost than just that of the victim. Even the lives of those who are implicated are tarnished, and even the schools and the educational system itself suffer the blow. We cannot abide another senseless death resulting from a misguided sense of brotherhood or sisterhood.
"I intend to make sure that the approach of the Anti-Hazing Inter- Agency Task Force towards this problem is comprehensive - not just concentrating on solving and prosecuting crimes that have already been committed, but also preventing such incidents from ever happening again. To do that, we welcome and, in fact, seek the support and contributions of all stakeholders, including those who are most intimately affected: the students themselves. I firmly believe that these incidents are preventable, and that's what the Inter-Agency Task Force will aim to prove," Secretary De Lima declared.