Brotherhood under fire

By the Undercover Jarhead, Photo by Horace Cimafranca

Ironic, there’s no other word to describe the phrase “fraternity related violence”. The definition alone makes it contradictory. Fraternity means “The quality or condition of being brothers; brotherliness.” Perhaps I’m wrong but there doesn’t seem to be anything very brotherly about the recent maulings and rumbles – Even if it was arguably, in self-defence.

Untimely deaths, gunshots and exploding pillboxes all seem very foreign to the academe. But that’s a lie. UP isn’t the safest place. Frat wars date all the way back to 1969 when Rolando Perez from Upsilon was killed in a frat related rumble.Gonzalo Albert was killed in 1954 in a hazing incident, and these are only reported cases.

More recently are the incidents between Alpha Sigma (Masig) and Alpha Phi Beta (APB). It all began September 16 when two members of APB were injured by Masig members near AS. Though the hit was, supposedly, not meant to be targeted at APB, it ignited the chain of frat related violence between the two fraternities.

On October 17, Ivan Valcos was supposedly hit by APB members in an AS (Palma Hall) bathroom. Dismayed, the office of the vice chancellor for student affairs ordered the suspension of all the officers of the two fraternities from October 18 to November 16. This was done in order to prevent the violence from escalating. It wasn’t meant to target the specific individuals who did the hit. A suspension from UP means that a student is banned from the school premises. The suspension case may not seem heavy because it spans the semester break but it also covers the registration period.

AS might seem a little foreign to us in School of Economics. We always hear of cases outside of our school. This time, SE was no foreigner to the string of FRVs. On October 23, while we were all out during the semestral break, Kehrl Reyes was hit in front of his own house by Masig members. Pretending to be ETC members, they were able to convince Kerhl to leave the safety of his house where he was hit on the head. Luckily there were bystanders nearby. Knocked unconscious and bleeding, Kehrl was rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, he didn’t suffer anything permanent.

Right outside our school in the sunken garden, Lloyd Cunanan was attacked, allegedly, by APB members during a band event. There were several witnesses but that did not intrude nor prevent the attack from happening. Two days later, on November 13, Kerhl Reyes’ car was trashed in our very own SE front parking lot. The guards were able to drive away the attackers but not before the car was totalled. They were able to note the plate number of the getaway vehicle and reported it to the UP police. However, it is not clear as to what actions were taken given the report.

There was also an explosion near Kerhl Reyes’ house on soon thereafter. There are speculations going around that this was a pillbox. This was not an isolated incident as an explosion was also heard near another APB member’s house.

That, alongside the constant fear of a rumble occurring in our school has put everyone on edge. Fortunately, our administration seems to have been on top of everything with security put on red alert. They also helped by designing several security measures such as designated parking spaces for cars that might be potentially hit, identification of potential FRV targets among others.

On November 18, a truce was finally signed by both APB and Masig at the office of the vice chancellor for student affairs. This happened two days after a car chase along the university avenue which left several cars crashed into the centerisland.

It might seem pretty alien as most people are not members of a fraternity and most of SE’s population is comprised of women. But there have also been several victims that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In 1999, Nino Calinao was gunned down. It was a case of mistaken identity. He wasn’t a member of any fraternity. He just happened to be near the tambayan of the Scintilla Juris Fraternity which had a conflict with Sigma Rho then. We should consider ourselves lucky that we weren’t crossing the university avenue when the car chase was in full swing.

What’s the bottom line? It seems as though the common student is but a victim of the externalities of FRVs. It seems that the best thing that we can do is to talk about how bad these incidents are. And that’s exactly it. We can always push our council or our admin to be more active in preventing these things from happening. The suspension case didn’t seem to be very effective after all so perhaps they’re going about the problem the wrong way.

But there’s always an extra step to it. People always get stuck asking themselves what they can do in the here and now and forget about the greater implications of things. Call it a stretch, but how different are FRVs from the political killings that happen in our country? How different is the fact that the Maguindanao massacre has left tons of people still looking for a resolution and the fact that the Chris Mendez hazing case in 2007 has yet to see the light of justice? The problem isn’t that these things happened nor is it that we let them happen. The problem is that FRVs have become normalized – an intrinsic part of UP culture spanning from the time of UP’s inception. I have heard parents and alumni say that UP isn’t UP without the FRV cases.

We always call for change. We all know how much crap is in our government and it’s great that we actively point it out. Change is something we actively look for. But what people don’t realize is that they are the change that they are looking for. Unless people change how they view things, there will really be no change in the system that has flaws we are always well aware of.

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