By Yvette B. Morales
Ten months after an alleged fraternity-related violence, aspiring members of the University Student Council (USC) affiliated to Greek formations face one victim seeking accountability.
UP students Jesus Blas Vitangcol and Joevie Dela Cruz, members of the Alpha Sigma fraternity, were attacked on June 18, 2015 by five members of Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity who used baseball bats and steel pipes, nearly killing Vitangcol.
Almost a week after the incident, the five posted bail of more than P280,000 each to be released from detention at the Quezon City Police District Station 9.
In the annual USC elections forum UPFront Thursday, Vitangcol asked Upsilon candidates for accountability.
”Why should we, the Iskolars ng Bayan, believe you that you are truly against frat-related violence?” he added.
Incumbent National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) representative to the USC RJ Belen, who is running for councilor as an independent, said his fraternity brothers have been made accountable.
This was seconded by Nagkakaisang Iskolar Para Sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA) councilor Leandro Anton Castro, who stood against violence.
“There’s no space for violence in the university and yung mga naaccuse na involved sa naging incident, naging very participative yung fraternity namin sa [..] sa due process at lumabas na yung resulta, napatunayan na walang sala yung aming mga fraternity members (There is no space for violence in the university and those accused in the incident were very participative. The results came out and it was proven that our fraternity members are innocent),” Castro said.
Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP)’s Donn Bernal, also running for USC councilor, agreed with Castro, who told Vitangcol it is wrong to point his fingers at Upsilon.
Bernal also said he was even put under preventive suspension in his own council in the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, where he is currently a councilor.
“Makakaattest dito yung mga councilmates ko na wala talaga akong parte doon sa nangyaring gulo (My councilmates can attest that I had no participation in the incident),” he said.
Earlier in the debate, candidates who are members of fraternities or sororities also said were also asked about the continuing fraternity-related violence.
Patrick Sicat, member of Alpha Sigma Fraternity along with Vitangcol, said they would not resort to violence.
“We resorted to legal remedies. We respect the rule of law [..]I think no person in his right mind would condone to violence,” Sicat said.
UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (ALYANSA) councilor Magnolia Del Rosario, member of the UP Delta Lambda Sigma Sorority, said there is a need to seek accountability for those who practice violence.
Meanwhile, independent councilor candidate and Sigma Rho Fraternity member Malcom Aniag said people should not generalize based on a single incident.
“Ang isang instance is not enough para i-encapsulate mo yung isang buong fraternity o buong fraternity culture or sorority culture na puro violence lang [..] Nasaan na yung mga projects na ginawa namin actually para sa mga mahihirap? (One instance is not enough to say that a fraternity, or the fraternity and sorority culture is all about violence. Where are the projects we made for the poor?)” Aniag said.
Another councilor said people should be reminded of the true purpose of the Greek formations.
“Nakikita nating mahalaga ang role ng ating mga organizations, fraternities and sororities dito sa loob ng ating university and society in general. Mahalaga na ibalik natin yung orientation ng mga organizations na gustong tumulong sa bawat indibidwal na gustong umambag sa pag-unlad ng ating bansa (We can see that organizations, fraternities and sororities are important inside the university and to the society in general. We should bring back the orientation of organizations who aim to help individuals who want to contribute to national development),” said Ben Te of STAND UP.
Castro said there is a need to bring back the Committee of Organizations, Fraternities and Sororities (COFS) in the USC.
“Let us engage our fraternities and sororities, magkaroon tayo ng collective manifesto na ang ating fraternities at sororities, magco-contribute sa ating unibersidad (Let us engage our fraternities and sororities through a collective manifesto saying they should contribute to the university),” Castro said.
According to incumbent USC councilor Beata Carolino, the COFS was abolished in 2014-2015 during the term of ALYANSA’s Arjay Mercado.