PMA plebes told hazing already removed
BAGUIO CITY—Freshmen cadets of the Philippine Military Academy are now empowered to “refuse and report illegal or immoral and unauthorized acts and orders” by senior cadets following the 2019 hazing death of Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio, their commandant of cadets said in a video message on Thursday (June 25).
Social reforms and the long lockdown initiated in February has helped eradicate traditions that tolerate the maltreatment of new cadets, or plebes, by seniors, said Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner in a video message to cadets’ parents.
Brawner’s message was posted on the academy’s social media account a day news circulated about a June 5 resolution by a panel of Baguio prosecutors which set murder charges against two of seven cadets linked to Dormitorio’s death.
Dormitorio, a member of PMA Class of 2023, was found unconscious after a night of vomiting on Sept. 17. He died on Sept. 18 at the PMA Station Hospital from what turned out to be internal injuries from a series of beatings by elder cadets in his barracks.
Brawner said the Department of National Defense (DND) sent a team to study why cadet maltreatment continued and transmitted a new set of rules aimed at eliminating all forms of abuse.
One of the DND’s key directives is to segregate bunkhouses, dining areas and study areas of each class to curb unmonitored interaction between older and younger cadets, he said.
In 2019, PMA rearranged cadet billeting so each room contained a representative of each class, to build camaraderie and to ensure the three older cadets would protect their new members, Brawner said.
PMA received its newest cadets, who make up PMA Class of 2024, on June 15.
Segregation was enforced “even before the memorandum was brought down by the DND review team,” Brawner said.
“The first class men are taking their first term of academics,” he said, while the second class men have been “distributed to the major services and are undergoing their respective training.”
Cadets belonging to the third class (or those in their second year in PMA) are undergoing development training, he said, while plebes have formed into a new cadet battalion and are being trained by tactical officers.
Before Class of 2024 arrived, PMA conducted a seminar and workshop for its tactics group to “iron out all the problems we will be facing,” and understand the role they play as “mentors and coaches of cadets,” Brawner said.
The changes would be enforced in a quarantine-controlled academy, which had been locked down since February to protect cadets from being infected with SARS Cov2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, he said.
The formal recognition ceremony for Dormitorio’s Class of 2023 in March, and this year’s graduation in May were held in the absence of parents.
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