A MARINE engineering student of the University of Cebu (UC) in Cebu City also died after undergoing initiation rites of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity in December 2022.

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta said in a press conference on Thursday, March 2, 2023, following the hazing-related death of John Matthew Salilig of Adamson University, that Leny Baguio, mother of Ronnel, a second year college marine engineering student of UC, sought their assistance in January to expedite the probe into her son’s death.

Ronnel died on December 19. His death certificate indicated that he died due to “severe acute respiratory distress syndrome secondary to indirect lung injury and acute kidney injury secondary to rhabdomyolysis.”

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Leny said that days before Ronnel’s death, he had complained of stomach pain, headaches, a suspected urinary tract infection, and was even vomiting blood.

She said she had sent Ronnel money for medical consultation without knowing that he had joined a fraternity and that his symptoms were the result of hazing.

Leny said when she called Ronnel, his friend informed her that he had been hospitalized. Leny immediately flew from Bataan to Cebu, but it was too late; her son was already lifeless when she arrived.

Leny said Ronnel had many wounds in his legs and his feet were swollen.

Public Attorney’s Office Director Revelyn Ramos-Dacpano said based on the initial investigation, the hazing happened on December 10.

She said investigation also showed that an instructor of UC was involved in his hazing.

Dacpano said they had sent a letter to UC, requesting a probe into the matter to identify those involved in Ronnel’s death.

UC, in a statement Thursday, said the incident happened off-campus.

“UC-METC (Maritime Education and Training Center) was not aware of the incident and does not tolerate any form of hazing. UC-METC does not recognize any fraternity or sorority,” it said.

It also confirmed that it received a request from PAO for a formal investigation on the death of Ronnel.

“Since the day we were informed of the incident, UC-METC has been coordinating with and assisting the police while conducting our own internal investigation,” UC added.

It vowed to cooperate and assist the police and the Baguio family in the probe.

Acosta said that she has already ordered prosecutors to file the case.

“Nananawagan po ako sa mga kapulisan po ng Cebu na kung maaari po ay makipagtulungan po tayo para mapabilis po ‘yung kaso ng anak ko, katulad ng dito po sa Cavite po,” Leny said.

(I am calling on Cebu police that if possible, we can work together to hasten my son’s case, just like the hazing case here in Cavite.)

“At saka, nananawagan din po ako na sana po ay matigil na po itong hazing na ito kasi kawawa naman po ang mga anak namin at mas kawawa kaming mga magulang,” she added.

(I am also appealing for this hazing culture to stop because our children are the ones suffering, and we parents suffer even more.)

Leny was referring to the death of Salilig after joining the initiation rites of the same fraternity that Ronnel had joined.

A day after Salilig’s body was recovered to have been buried in a grassy area in Imus, Cavite, police have already identified those involved in his death.

Six of the suspects, including the leader of the fraternity chapter, have already been arrested, and charges for the violation of the anti-hazing law have been filed against them before the Department of Justice.

The circumstances surrounding Salilig’s death were revealed by a witness/suspect who admitted to taking part in the initiation rites as a member of the organization. (SunStar Philippines)