Drowned cadet wanted to be president
Cadet Fourth Class Mario Telan Jr. wanted to be president, a dream that he was bold enough to express on social media.
But this dream, alas, would die with him. Telan drowned on Friday at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) swimming pool during a swimming class.
Investigators have concluded that Telan’s death was an accident and have focused their attention on two swimming instructors responsible for ensuring safety in the pool area.
But members of Telan’s family in Enrile, Cagayan, still have doubts and have asked for a thorough investigation into what they described as his “unexplained drowning.”
Telan’s parents traveled to Fort Del Pilar in Baguio City on Friday and were briefed about the circumstances of his death, according to Navy Capt. Cheryl Tindog, the PMA spokesperson.
Footage of the swimming pool showed Telan diving into the water before noon, along with several other plebes, for a free floating exercise.
None of the cadets noticed that Telan had not surfaced until they were assembled for lunch. Soon enough they found Telan underwater.
Tindog said Telan’s instructors were being questioned about the class on their watch.
“We were stunned by his death. He said he was okay at the academy,” Liezel Telan-Binasoy, Telan’s eldest sister, said.
Relatives said that Telan, nicknamed “Kuset,” was an active student at Lemu National High School in Enrile.
He passed the PMA entrance examination, entering the academy on June 1, along with slain hazing victim Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio, who died on Sept. 18 from what police discovered were internal injuries caused by beatings.
Dormitorio’s death triggered reforms at the academy and also raised concerns about the condition of the cadets.
But Telan was a young man filled with hope, or so suggested a Facebook post of his on April 26 last year.
“This is the land of my birth, and the home of my people. Sama-sama tayo, kapag presidente na’ko (Let us unite when I become president),” Telan said in his post.
On Saturday, the PMA was teeming with visitors, among them relatives of cadets, from as far as Pampanga province, who commuted to Baguio to check on them. —Villamor Visaya Jr. with a report from Vincent Cabreza
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