UC student dies after fraternity hazing: 9 things we know so far

RONNEL Masamoc Baguio, a student of the University of Cebu’s Maritime Education and Training Center (UC-METC), died on December 19, 2022, days after undergoing initiation rites of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.

The police have identified five members of the fraternity as suspects in Baguio’s death.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Central Visayas has also initiated its own probe to determine if hazing caused Baguio’s death.

Here’s #AllYouNeedtoKnow on this ongoing investigation.

1. Fraternity members identified as suspects

The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) has identified five members of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity as suspects in the death of Baguio in Cebu City in December 2022.

One of the suspects was said to be the master initiator, while the other four are also students of UC-METC.

The suspects were identified through the testimony of one of the witnesses who was initially considered a person of interest. The police have not released the names of the suspects pending the filing of criminal complaints.

2. Initial investigation shows involvement of UC instructor in hazing

Public Attornets Office (PAO) Director Revelyn Ramos-Dacpano said based on the initial investigation, the hazing that led to Ronnel Baguio’s death happened on December 10, 2022. She also revealed that an instructor of UC was involved in the hazing.

3. Location of hazing identified

The CCPO has located the area where the hazing occurred and investigators are currently gathering statements from residents in the area.

The police had faced delays in the investigation due to the victim’s family not providing them with the victim’s cellular phone, which could have been used to identify his contacts.

The family coordinated with investigators of Mambaling Police Station after Baguio’s death but later decided to bury his body in their hometown in Mariveles, Bataan, in Luzon.

4. Charges to be filed soon

The CCPO clarified that it did not intentionally delay the investigation and will file charges against the five suspects next week. The charges will include the teacher who recruited the victim into the fraternity.

The teacher, whose name has been withheld by the police, has issued a sworn statement identifying the persons involved in the initiation rites. The police believe that the evidence they have gathered is strong enough to pin the suspects, but they are still getting the side of another witness who was among those who underwent the initiation rites.

5. Appeal to fraternity

The CCPO assured Baguio’s family that they will prioritize the case and that no one can influence the outcome of the investigation.

The police also appealed to the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity not to threaten witnesses in the case and assured them that they would go after those who do.

An official of the Tau Gamma Phi Alumni Association in Cebu City, who asked not to be named, said their council has told the members of the UC chapter that the group must cooperate in the investigation being conducted by the police.

The fraternity has also vowed to adhere to the Anti-Hazing Law.

6. NBI-Central Visayas to investigate hazing death

NBI-Central Visayas Director Rennan Augustus Oliva announced that the agency will conduct an investigation to determine whether hazing was the cause of Baguio’s death.

PAO-Central Visayas requested NBI-Central Visayas to initiate the investigation, which will be led by Associate Director Dominador Cimafranca.

The NBI-Central Visayas said it is open to collaborating with the police to solve the crime quickly.

7. UC president’s promise

University of Cebu President Augusto Go condemned the incident and vowed that justice will be served against the perpetrators.

Go assured that UC is fully cooperating with the police investigation and has conducted an internal investigation.

He said that UC does not tolerate any form of hazing, and promised that cases will be filed against those involved in Baguio’s death.

8. Mother of hazing victim seeks help from PAO chief

Leny Baguio, the mother of hazing victim Ronnel Baguio, sought the help of PAO Chief Persida Acosta to expedite the investigation into her son’s death.

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

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

9. Tau Gamma Phi fraternity vows to impose penalties

Following the death of Baguio, the National Council of Tau Gamma Phi Triskelion’s Grand Fraternity vowed to impose penalties on those who will be found responsible. In a statement, the group expressed its sympathy and condolence to the family of the victim and renounced any form of violence and brutality as guiding precepts of their actions. (AYB, ANV, LMY, EHP/JGS)