By JOSEPH GREGORIO
BAGUIO CITY (Updated September 29, 10:02 am) — The superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy announced that he submitted his resignation over the death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio in a brief press conference on September 24.
PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista cited Command Responsibility for stepping but clarified that he did not leave his position amid crisis.
“PMA is the primary military leadership training institution of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with these, we have to show the Filipino people what Command Responsibility should be,” he said.
According to Evangelista, the PMA exhausted all possible to do what is right, noting the academy attended to every need of Dormitorio’s family. He added the institution made the necessary steps to probe the death and bring those responsible to justice.
“I did not leave my post in the midst of crisis. I faced the problem squarely, and we have finished the investigation,” the resigned PMA chief said.
PMA Commandant of Cadet Brigadier General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro also relinquished his post. He underscored that their resignation was a means to uphold the doctrine of command responsibility and not because they neglected their duties and obligations.
According to him, they ordered the “separation from the academy” of four cadets involved in the death of Dormitorio. These are Cadets 3rd Class Shalimar Imperial and Felix Lombag for directly taking part and Cadet 1st Class Axl Rey Sanupao, and Squad Leader Cadet 2nd class Nickoel Termil for encouraging maltreatment.
Suspended for one year for participating are Cadets 1st Class Irvin Sayod and Elbert Lucas while Cadet 1st Class Christian Correa received 180 days confinement at the holding center, 51 demerits, and 180 punishment tours.
The official also assured the public of the wellness of every student in the academy especially the 4th class cadets.
According to reports, Dormitorio complained of stomach aches and vomited inside their barracks at 1:00 am on September 18. He was brought to the OMA hospital at around 4:00 am and declared dead at 5:15 am.
Police said he died from internal injuries he incurred during hazing. However, the PMA said the incident was a case of “maltreatment” committed by cadets to a fellow cadet. Family and friends laid him to rest today, September 25.
Hazing in PMA
Over the week after Dormitorio’s death, three more cadets were brought to the hospital due to injuries from possible “maltreatment,” the Armed Forces of the Philippines confirmed.
Two PMA cadets also died in 2001. The court convicted two former cadets of the academy for killing Cadet 4th Class Edward Domingo. The upperclassmen beat Domingo to death using lead pipes. Another cadet, Monico De Guzman, died of illness according to the school authorities; however, his father alleged he died of beating.
Former police chief and now senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa condoned the hazing, saying its part of molding “warriors” out of the young cadets. Meanwhile, current PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said that hazing is “a matter of personal perception” and acknowledged that he experienced it in the academy. Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also admitted of hazing-related death during his cadet years in the academy.
Youth groups criticized dela Rosa and Albayalde for condoning hazing and called on the government to hold everyone involved accountable.
PMA officials, including its Kabataan Party-list Representative called on authorities to ensure the delivery of justice for Dormitorio and stamped out hazing in the military institutions.
“Senator Bato and General Albayalde themselves have admitted that hazing is a long-standing tradition in the PMA. Hazing is not a common practice,” she said.
The youth solon underscored that hazing is “not only illegal, but it is also criminal.” She urged the Duterte administration to hold the all cadets involved and their military instructors accountable for the tragic murder.
Meanwhile, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Baguio Benguet Chapter stressed that the cadets involved are not the only ones responsible. The group said that PMA as an institution should be held liable for not doing enough to stop such things from happening. # nordis.net