Trigger Warning: Contains graphic descriptions in related to physical violence
An online initiative of the fraternity tagged in the death of 24-year-old college student John Matthew Salilig earned flak for how it perceived the whole situation as a “test” they must overcome.
The Facebook page of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity, also known as the Triskelions Grand Fraternity, on March 5 invited its members to temporarily change their profile pictures for a week amid the public hearing about the case.
Last March 7, the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights conducted its first hearing into the alleged hazing-related death of Salilig, where lawmakers grilled some fraternity members involved in the initiation.
These include 23-year-old “master initiator” Daniel Perry and 22-year-old Tung Cheng Teng Jr., the leader of the Adamson University chapter of Tau Gamma Phi who said they were just following “tradition” when they repeatedly struck Salilig.
Teng said he was “afraid not to comply” because he “might be subjected to DA” or disciplinary action.
Perry, meanwhile, said he was also among those who had buried Salilig’s body in a shallow grave which police said was done in haste.
The “master initiator” also disclosed that he had led three initiation rites before but recently decided to “lie low” from the fraternity as he was set to graduate this school year.
Sen. Francis Tolentino, chair of the Senate committee, told him that he has “wasted” his future.
“You and the others will not be able to graduate… Do you even realize that?” the lawmaker told Perry in the hearing.
“You will go straight to [the national penitentiary in] Muntinlupa,” Tolentino added.
Perry and Teng are among those facing charges of violation of the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 or Republic Act 11053.
The senators in the hearing also grilled Adamson University student affairs director lawyer Jan Nelin Navallasca over the school’s supposed inaction despite being aware of the fraternity’s “alleged presence” in the educational institution.
The university official said that Adamson does not accredit fraternities and sororities. The school also informs students about its policies during the annual freshman orientation.
Senators Tolentino, Raffy Tulfo, and Bato Dela Rosa said they are eyeing stiffer penalties of reclusion perpetua against fraternity officials and elders, administrators of universities, and owners of properties where hazing rites are conducted and have resulted in the death of a member.
According to ABS-CBN’s Investigative and Research Group, the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity holds the highest number of alleged hazing deaths in history with 15 victims. It is followed by the Alpha Phi Omega with six victims.
Meanwhile, the Facebook page of the Tau Gamma Phi on Sunday changed its profile picture with an image that featured a lighted candle and a black ribbon.
It also bore a text that reads: “Sa SIMULA at WAKAS ay KAPATIRAN.”
The post’s caption, on the other hand, said:
“Lahat po ng ating kapatid ay inaanyayahan na magpalit ng [t]emporary profile pic [picture] for 1 [one] week para sa pakikiramay at pagdadalamhati sa mga pagsubok na nangyayari sa ating Kapatiran. Pakita natin sa buong mundo na nagkakaisa tayo, malalagpasan din natin ‘to, mga Kapatid.”
The post has earned over 2,300 likes and “love” reactions, as well as 218 shares on the platform.
Not everyone can comment on it since the fraternity has limited the comments section.
The post has reached r/Philippines, a subreddit in the discussion website dedicated to the country and “all things Filipino,” where its caption about brotherhood has earned criticism from some Pinoys.
“Pagsubok lang pala ‘pag nakapatay ng member,” Redditor u/iLackTeats, who shared the screengrab of the Facebook post, commented on March 8.
“Ano ‘yan? Until sa next na pagsubok ulit? Kupal lang ah, parang hindi nakapatay, amp,” another Reddit user wrote in response to the fraternity’s caption.
“Hoyy, dami na ng pinatay, este, pagsubok sa frat na ‘yan ah,” commented a different Redditor.
“Throughout the years, ilang PAGSUBOK* na kaya ‘yan sa kapatiran nila. Sabagay, nasa Pilipinas tayo, mainit pa kasi ang sabaw, papalamigin lang ‘yan, back to normal ulit,” another Pinoy wrote.
“OK na sana kung para sa namatay ‘yan e…” a different Redditor commented.
The fraternity made headlines last week after it was tagged in the killing of Salilig during its initiation rites last month.
His battered body, which received at least 70 blows, was found in a vacant lot in Imus, Cavite on February 28 over a week after he went missing.
Salilig’s face was also bloated and almost crushed upon his body’s discovery.
Police said the injuries would still be recognizable even if the body were in an advanced state of decomposition.
Salilig was reportedly no longer in good condition in the middle of the rites and was on their way back to Manila when he died.
His death came five months after another college student died in similar circumstances but with a different fraternity in Davao City.
READ: Calls to ‘abolish’ fraternities mount after death of Adamson University student