Archive for September, 2007

I Love Jovito Salonga

Salonga resigns from Sigma Rho
By Tina Santos, Santiago Alcantara
Last updated 02:26am (Mla time) 09/15/2007
MANILA, Philippines – Ramon Magsaysay awardee and former Senate President Jovito Salonga has resigned as member of the Sigma Rho fraternity after some of its members were implicated in the fatal hazing of UP-Diliman student Cris Anthony Mendez.

“I hereby resign as a member of Sigma Rho, effectively immediately,” Salonga said.

In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Salonga, one of the most prominent Sigma Rhoans, said that he was resigning “because of recent events in which Sigma Rho has been involved.”

Other prominent members of Sigma Rho are former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senators Edgardo Angara, Juan Ponce Enrile and Iloilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico.

Salonga had earlier threatened to resign if it was determined that Sigma Rho members were involved in the death of Mendez.

“I joined Sigma Rho Fraternity, along with my classmate Pedro I. Yap (who later became Chief Justice) shortly after it was founded. At that time there was no hazing as a prerequisite to admission,” Salonga said.

Mendez, a 20-year-old graduating UP student, was rushed past midnight of Aug. 27 to the Veterans Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Quezon City police investigators found out that Mendez was a victim of hazing due to “bruises all over his body, particularly on the back of his arms and thighs.”

Further investigations proved that Mendez was being recruited into the Sigma Rho fraternity. No one from among its members has since come forward to admit responsibility for the killing.

The National Bureau of Investigation said it would no longer summon students of UP who could shed light on the investigation of the death of Mendez.

Instead, police officials and NBI agents would be the one to go to the university and get the statements of possible witnesses, said lawyer Romulo Asis, chief of the NBI Anti-Terrorism Division, which was tasked to handle the case.

Asis explained that the move was agreed upon during a meeting among the NBI, Quezon City Police and UP officials yesterday.

“UP officials were requesting if the students, particularly the possible witnesses to the case, could be interviewed at the university instead of inviting them over at the NBI, sort of giving them a “comfort zone.”

“Of course, we understand that they (UP officials) were just protecting the students, especially those who might receive threats as a result of their decision to come out in the open,” Asis said, adding that the meeting was part of the three institutions’ cooperative efforts.
Asis added that the UP administration would provide an office where student witnesses can be interviewed by authorities.

For the past two weeks, the NBI has been issuing subpoenas to several UP students and alleged members of the Sigma Rho fraternity who recruited Mendez into the fraternity.

However, not one of those subpoenaed has showed up at the bureau, Asis said. He claimed that some of them only sent letters “invoking their right to remain silent.”

Another NBI source added that the UP administration, which has launched its own probe of the case, wanted to be the first to file a case against those allegedly involved in the incident.

“They requested if they can be ahead in filing an administrative case,” the NBI source said. “I think the purpose is to come up with expulsion of the people involved.”


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Finally the Death Eaters speak…

… but what they say just infuriates me more. The nasty hypocrites. Here’s an excerpt from an article on abs-cbn news online.

Sigma Rho speaks
Meanwhile, the Sigma Rho Council Inc. and the alumni association of the Sigma Rho fraternity have issued a statement condemning Mendez’s untimely death.

“We both urge the police and university authorities to thoroughly investigate this unwarranted incident to ferret out the truth,” council president Bienvenido Somera Jr. said.

Police have said the evidence gathered points to the hazing allegedly perpetrated by Sigma Rho’s members as the cause of Mendez’s death. In its statement, the fraternity neither confirmed nor denied its members’ involvement in the case.

Somera said they condole with Mendez’s family and assured them that the council “is interested as much in bringing things to light so that justice may be served.”

He also appealed to the media to “be more circumspect in their reporting and not make a media circus out of the incident” because it would only “muddle the issue.”

“Quite surely, the proper authorities are doing their jobs to solve the incident,” Somera said.

He called on fraternities to convene with UP officials to seek a common plan of action “to arouse a collective consciousness rooted in civic responsibility, and to put an end to activities that only breed a culture of violence in society.”

So why didn’t they participate in the covenant signing at Malcolm Hall? So what exactly has Rho Sig done to end activities that breed a culture of violence in society?  Media circus? Really??? Muddle up the issue? What exactly is the issue being muddled up here when all we are searching for is the truth? Most importantly, are they implicitly denying that Cris died from injuries sustained during Sigma Rho initiation rites?

The same article says that a witness, also a participant during the initiations, has come forward with information. If true, then my hat’s off to him for doing the right and just thing. As for the rest of Sigma Rho, especially their leadership, tell us how Cris died, and face the consequences of your actions. Please don’t issue empty statements – and least of all, do not point fingers at anyone else for “muddling up the issues.” The issue, dear sirs, is far from being muddled up. It is quite simple: Someone’s dead by your hands. Whatever outrage or scorn you are receiving is an inevitable reaction. Be the men you purport yourselves to be.

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Death Eaters

Some comments on different blogs regarding Cris Mendez’s death have grabbed my attention, for various reasons. One is by Barb on, who says:


On prominent Sigma Rho members, former Senate President Jovito Salonga told Prof. Filomeno T. Hilbay in a private conversation before the incident: “One more time a hazing incident happens, I will renounce my frat.” He also said that, “I’m not proud of my association with Sigma Rho.”

The father of University Student Council (USC) Chairperson Shahana Abdulwahid is Court of Appeals Justice Hakim S. Abdulwahid of Sigma Rho batch 1966. The brother of Chancellor Sergio S. Cao is Carlos S. Cao, Jr. of Sigma Rho batch 1978.

First of all, I have to say that if this is true, then it just reaffirms my great admiration for Jovy Salonga. More importantly, this information interests me because to me it explains the reaction of Stand-UP (political party to which USC President Abdulwahid belongs), which to my knowledge is so far non-existent. Does not the most prominent political organization in the UP have anything to say on the matter? (Do send it my way if it has been released. )

I also hope that the fact that Chancellor Cao is a Sigma Rhoan has nothing to do with the virtual gag order on UP students regarding the case… Which leads me to a comment by JM, still on


I hope you try to understand the UP students’ situations for not speaking up about the issue.

We’re all saddened and infuriated about Cris’s death, but the looming threat of revenge from frats who will be indicated by any statement is very far from inviting. The students were kept mum because the case hasn’t been resolved yet, and any statement released by anyone from UP could really blow things out of proportion if found otherwise.

We are trying our best. If you are a UP student, what would you do? We held an indignation rally to show that we sympathize with the family and to show how we condemn frat violence in the university, and also to encourage people who have information to speak up before the authorities.

We are likewise urging the UP Admin to act upon the matter immediately. But the resolution of the case lies not with us, but with the proper authorities.

Thanks. Just airing out my side as a UP student.

Hmmm… Sorry but I am a law student at UP and I don’t understand it. The whole blowing something out of proportion really does not make any sense to me, not even considering sub judice. (I mean, honestly, try selling that line to Cris’ mother, and let’s see just how understanding she would be.) I can’t help but wonder whether people don’t want to talk out of prudence or out of fear. Now that – fear of reprisal – is something that I can actually understand, given that even my classmates from law school have always preferred to talk about certain Sigma Rhoans and however we think of them in hushed tones – especially if its a Sigma Rhoan professor. This in itself it is a sad commentary. Students should not be in fear of violence or harassment from their peers, or unfair treatment from their professors, just because they express contrary beliefs or are otherwise affiliated. Maybe this explains too, why most if not all the official statements that have been released by members of the UP Community have so far refused to actually name Sigma Rho as the frat involved.

And speaking of statements, on my own blog, Anti-hazing mom said:

I have just read the official statemet of the UP Law Student body on the death of Mendez and this is what I have to say: cut the crap!! I have enough of your cry for temperance. This is the only statement I need to hear from you and your orgs: WE CONDEMN HAZING AND WE WILL NEVER CONDUCT HAZING FOR INITIATION RITES EVER AGAIN. Simple and clear, you don’t have to be a lawyer to say that!!!

I agree. It really should be that simple. We don’t need eloquent expressions of indignation or grief, what we need are categorial renunciations of hazing and fraternity-related violence. Not that I have much faith in the word of these people, but that’s beside the point…

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