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PMA: Instructors negligence led to drowning of plebe

Photo by JJ Landingin.

BAGUIO CITY – Investigation conducted by the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) pointed responsibility to two civilian instructors for the Cadet 4th Class Mario Telan, Jr. at the school’s swimming pool on November 8.

PMA spokesperson Captain Cheryl Tindog said the probe found Robert S. Bete and Antonio B. Catalan were negligent and imprudent in the conduct of the course “Fundamentals of Swimming.” According to her, these errors led to the drowning of the plebe.

Bete is a regular civilian employee. The PMA recommended his dismissal from the service with penalties of cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits. Also, part of the consequence is his perpetual disqualification from holding public office and from taking civil service examinations.

While Catalan, a job-order employee, was immediately terminated by the PMA. The academy recommended to the Civil Service Commission the cancellation of his eligibility and perpetual disqualification from holding public office and barring him from taking civil service exams as penalties.

According to Tindog, the PMA based the sanctions from Rule 10, Section 46 of Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, i.e., for Gross Neglect of Duty.

She also disclosed that the sanctions for the lapses, faults, and shortcomings of the two 4th Class Cadet “responsible for accounting their classmates before and after the swimming class” are still under deliberation. The probe, she said, also includes the Head of the Sports and Physical Development Unit (SPDU). However, the PMA spokes did not name the two cadets and head of the PMA SPDU but assured the media that upon completion of the deliberation, the academy would implement the appropriate sanctions immediately. 

Tindog also declared that swimming classes of the cadets in all levels remain suspended until all safety measures are in place. PMA is also arranging for the assignment of a team from the Philippine Navy Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) to be part of all water-borne training activities of the cadets.

She vowed that the PMA “is committed to leaving no stone unturned (on the case of Cdt 4Cl Telan) and will continue to institute measures for the safety of all cadets so that this tragic incident will not be repeated.”

Meanwhile, Baguio City police director Col. Allen Rae Co said they still had to wrap up their investigation on the incident. According to him, they are coordinating with the cadet’s family in Cagayan on their decision to file criminal charges or not against the instructors. Earlier, the police officer pointed out that the death of Telan was a result of the instructors’ negligence.

Telan was the third cadet death recorded in less than two months in PMA. He attended the 11 am to 12 noon swimming class but was unaccounted for the next his class. Cadets found him at the bottom of the pool after they went searching for him.# nordis.net

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