Cheap Shot: The Inadequacy of the Anti-Hazing Law

by: Viktor Morales

(This post was published before the passage of the New Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, which is now broad enough to include hazing in sport teams –  Mickey, August 29, 2018)

Hazing has always been thought to be limited to fraternities, sororities, and other similar organizations. However, hazing also happens in sports. These hazing activities vary from acceptable behaviors to potentially illegal behaviors.[1] For example, in 2012, the Gilas Pilipinas Basketball Team imposed a “laundry chore” to Garvo Lanete.[2] Together with Jay-R Reyes and Matt Rosser, Lanete was in charge of taking the team’s athletic jerseys to laundry as part of their “initiation rites”.[3]

Recently, Coach Bong Dela Cruz of the University of Santo Tomas was under investigation for alleged hazing related acts against his players.[4] Reports indicate that he once put an adhesive tape on a guard’s mouth during a practice, ordered two players to kiss, and had a hand in bullying a Team B player.[5] Eventually, he was released as a coach by the UST.[6]

When athletes are in danger of these hazing risks, are they protected under Philippine law? In this post, I argue that they are not.

What is Hazing?

 The Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 defines hazing as an “initiation rite or practice, as a prerequisite for admission, by placing the recruit, neophyte, or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situation”.[7] This definition is examined to prove that the existing legal framework fails to leave the athlete protected under the law.

Legal Gaps in Philippine Law

 Sports-related hazing has been extensively documented in the United States. [8] However, there have been cases that led to a failure of prosecution due to inadequate construction of Anti-Hazing statutes. An example is the case of Eugene Sullivan wherein he was sexually molested as part of a hazing ritual in their baseball team. Since the previous construction of the New Jersey Law defines hazing as “a conduct in connection with initiation of applicants to or members of a student or fraternal organization”, it failed to cover hazing acts in athletic teams.[9] The same gap exists in Philippine law.

Simply, hazing in sports teams is not covered by existing laws.

Lack of Criminal Intent

The acts involved in hazing might be considered either Homicide or Physical Injuries, were it not for the need to prove criminal intent. As such, these two crimes are not applicable in the context of hazing as decided in the case of Villareal v. People (Villareal).[10] In Homicide, one must prove an intent to kill. However, in ordinary hazing cases, a hazing perpetrator has no real intention to kill a neophyte.[11] The same can be said about Physical Injuries. Without proof of intent to injure, the hazing perpetrator gets off.

Consent as a Defense

 Due to peer pressure or the environment behind the organization, one generally consents to the process which leads to unexpected consequences. Normally, before hazing rituals push through, there are briefings or orientations regarding the rigors of the process. In Villareal, the Court considered the presence of consent on the part of the victim, together with the totality of circumstances, as ample support to the non-finding of criminal intent.[12]

The case of Robert Champion, a band member of the famous Florida A&M band, is also instructive. [13] Champion was killed due to initiation rites by his senior band members.[14] The judge considered the presence of consent, which eventually led to the mitigation of the penalty of the perpetrators.[15] Amending the law will prevent the invocation of consent as a defense.


With the legal gaps presented, the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 must be amended to cover sports-team athletes.

First, the law should not be limited to acts as preconditions for membership. As mentioned earlier, hazing also happens to full-fledged members in order to promote the same rationale as with fraternities and other similar organizations.

Second, the acts involved should also cover alcohol-related hazing as part of the punishable acts since most hazing activities involving sports teams entail the consumption of alcohol.[16]

Third, in order to distinguish hazing from actual training, the standards set forth by U.S. State laws should be used.[17]

Finally, an administrative penalty against hazing perpetrators – such as the non-recognition of the team or organization and removal of scholarships or privileges – should be imposed.

Final Thoughts

The need to amend the Anti-Hazing Law is timely given the rise of Philippine sports. Sports unites Filipinos especially as the quality of Philippine sports has made it a valuable player in international competitions. Filipino phenoms have been springing from all parts of the country. However, if not protected from the risks and hazards of illegal hazing, these talents and dreams can come to waste. Without protection, the State is giving hazing perpetrators a cheap shot against these future athletes – free from any liability and promoting impunity.

Viktor Morales is an aspiring sports lawyer and a bar candidate for the 2016 bar examinations. He is a fan of the King, Gilas Pilipinas,  and Manchester United. He recently graduated from the Ateneo Law School.

This post is a brief summary of Viktor’s Ateneo Juris Doctor thesis entitled Cheap Shot: The Inadequacy of the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 in Relation to Sports Teams. It is available here with Mr. Morales’ permission. Kindly cite his work in future scholarship.


[1].          Nadine Hoover, “Initiation Rites and Athletics for NCAA Sports Teams” available at (last accessed Jun. 16, 2016).

[2].          Jerome Ascano, ‘Laundry Boy’ Lanete helps Gilas Pilipinas keep a clean slate, available at (last accessed June 19, 2016).

[3].          Id.

[4].          Reuben Terrado, “UST source details maltreatment, violence allegedly committed by coach Bong Dela Cruz against players, available at (last accessed June 19, 2016).

[5].          Id.

[6].          Jasmine Payo, “Sources: UST sacks head coach Bong Dela Cruz available at (last accessed June 19, 2016).

[7].          An Act Regulating Hazing and Other Forms of Initiation Rites in Fraternities, Sororities, and other Organizations and Providing Penalties Therefor [Anti-Hazing Law of 1995], Republic Act No. 8049, § 2 (1995).

[8].          Tom Farrey, Sports hazing incidents, available at accessed Jun.19, 2015).

[9].          Id.

[10].              Villareal v. People of the Philippines, 664 SCRA 243, 528 (2012).

[11]               Id.

[12].              Id,

[13].         Orl. Sent., Jun. 26, 2015, available at (last accessed Jun. 19, 2016).


[14].         Orl. Sent., Jun. 26, 2015, available at (last accessed Jun. 19, 2016).


[15].         Orl. Sent., Jun. 26, 2015, available at (last accessed Jun. 19, 2016).


[16].         See discussion: Viktor Ivan Nicolo T. Morales, Cheap Shot: The Inadequacy of the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 in relation to Sports Teams, (2015) (unpublished J.D. thesis, Ateneo de Manila University) (on file with the Professional Schools Library, Ateneo de Manila University).

[17].         Fla. Stat, § 1006. 135, Oregon Stat § 163. 197.


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