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‘BARBARIC PRACTICE’

Charges readied vs cadets linked to hazing death

/ 05:02 AM September 24, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Criminal charges will be filed against three Philippine Military Academy (PMA) upperclassmen over the hazing death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio, the military reported in Manila on Monday.

In Baguio City, a spokesperson for the PMA said on Monday that two tactical officers had been sacked for command responsibility in the Sept. 18 death of the 20-year-old plebe.

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The military also said two other PMA cadets had been hospitalized with suspected hazing injuries.

Medical examination

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Dormitorio’s death and reports of the maltreatment of plebes had prompted Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to order the PMA superintendent, Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, to put all freshman students in the academy through medical examination.

“All of them, from head to foot,” Lorenzana said in a talk with reporters in Manila on Monday.

Lorenzana said he had also ordered Evangelista to ask plebes who would be found to have hazing marks to disclose the identities of the upperclassmen who had inflicted the injuries on them.

The hazers would be dealt with to “the full extent of the law,” Lorenzana said.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, wanted Evangelista to do something else: resign.

“If I were the superintendent and I would not know what is happening in my academy, then I have no business staying in my position,” Panelo said, but adding that it was just his personal opinion and not the administration’s official position.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez also called for Evangelista’s resignation and for a stop to hazing at the PMA.

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‘I can do nothing’

In a talk with reporters, Evangelista said he would resign if told by the President to do so.

“I can do nothing. I am hopeful that I get to finish this [investigation]. . . If I have to resign then I will resign,” Evangelista said.

In a statement, Panelo commended the PMA for cooperating with the Baguio police in the investigation of Dormitorio’s death.

But he also criticized the school for failing to stop hazing, which he condemned as a “barbaric practice.”

He then suggested that Congress enact a law that would make the PMA superintendent criminally accountable for hazing at the academy.

At a press briefing in Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on Monday, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, the military spokesperson, said charges had been filed in Baguio City against two cadets third class and a cadet first class for violating the antihazing law, while six other cadets would undergo administrative proceedings in connection with Dormitorio’s death.

The Baguio police, however, said on Monday night that the charges had not yet been filed, as the investigators were still waiting for the affidavit of Dormitorio’s family.

Of the six other cadets, Arevalo said four were facing discharge and the two others were facing suspension.

Arevalo said another cadet was being investigated for a Class 1 offense, the worst in the academy and punishable by the highest penalty, including demerits and suspension of privileges.

Two others hospitalized

He also said two plebes were confined in the hospital — one on Sept. 17 and the other on Sept. 21 — for abdominal pain that might have been due to maltreatment.

It was uncertain, however, if the two cadets had been beaten along with Dormitorio, he said.

“The alleged perpetrators in these cases had been identified, and all are now held at the PMA holding center under tight guard as the investigation proceeds,” Arevalo said.

In Baguio City, Maj. Reynan Afan, spokesperson for the PMA, said the two sacked tactical officers—one a major and the other a captain—were ground commanders at the company level.

He said they were relieved to clear the way for an impartial investigation of Dormitorio’s death.

Afan said a tactical officer was “the father of the company” and directly responsible for the cadets’ well-being and development.

He said the two officers were immediately in charge of Dormitorio.

The PMA administration also relieved some school employees, and was interviewing others, according to instructors in the school.

“Everyone is being questioned,” said a professor who requested that his name be withheld. —With reports from Julie M. Aurelio, Jigger Jerusalem, Vincent Cabreza and Kimberlie Quitasol

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TAGS: Darwin Dormitorio, Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine Military Academy, PMA hazing, Ronnie Evangelista
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