Solon scolds cop probing PMMA cadet’s death for recommending lesser case
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker scolded on Tuesday the investigator in charge of resolving the death of a Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) cadet in July for recommending homicide charges against the suspect and not the anti-hazing act.
In the House committee on higher and technical education hearing, Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun asked Police Staff Sgt. Leo Barrera investigated the death of Midshipman Cadet 4th Class Cadet Jonash Bondoc whether he understands the difference of charges based on homicide and hazing.
It was because the suspect in Bondoc’s death, Midshipman Cadet 2nd class Jomel Gloria, got charged with homicide and not for violating Republic Act No. 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018.
In response, Barrera, who is assigned at the local police office of San Narciso, Zambales, said he knows the difference between the two laws.
“Ang itatanong ko lang — siguro naman ginawa din ng PNP ‘yong pwede nilang gawin pero alam po ba ng ating imbestigador ang pagkakaiba ng hazing at physical injuries, at hazing at homicide sa ating batas?” Fortun asked.
(I just want to ask, probably the PNP did what was necessary but did our investigator know the difference between hazing and physical injuries, hazing and homicide [cases] in our laws?)
“Yes sir, alam ko sir [I know it sir],” Barrera told the House panel.
When asked about how the two charges differed, the police officer was not able to provide a clear explanation, leading Fortun to conclude that Barrera was not really aware of the laws’ provisions.
“Kasi sir ‘yong sa pagdating sa hazing sir, may witness kasi talaga ‘yong time na ‘yon na ginawa niya, kumbaga maraming gumawa ‘yang hazing na ‘yon. May witness na sana, may nakakita na ‘yong tao na ‘yon ay ginagawa niyang gano’n para lang pinapalo,” the cop said.
(Because when it comes to hazing, there had been a witness when it was committed. There had been a witness who saw the initiation.)
“Kapag walang nakakita, hindi siya hazing, kung may nakakita hazing siya? Mukhang hindi po yata ninyo alam kung ano ‘yong pagkakaiba batay na rin sa sagot ninyo,” Fortun answered.
(If no one has seen it, that is not hazing, if somebody hasn’t seen that it was hazing? Looks like you didn’t know the difference based on what yo have said.)
Barrera tried to explain things, saying that hazing is determined if there was an intent from several participants to harm the subject of the hazing. Fortun then asked him if it meant that Gloria’s act to punch Bondoc on the chest was not intentional.
The police officer then responded that it was some sort of a “send-off, a tradition” for cadets leaving the campus temporarily.
“Lambing at tradisyon nila, di ba sabi ninyo? Labing, tradisyon, at pabaon. Hindi po ba ang mga katagang ‘yan ay nagpapakita na hazing ang nangyari? Kasi po mukhang hindi nga ninyo alam na hazing ang nangyari,” Fortun replied.
(It was tenderness, a tradition, you said it, right? Tenderness, tradition, send off. Didn’t they represent the act of hazing? Looks like you didn’t know.)
“Sa hazing kasi, ginagawa siya para siyang tradisyon kung frat-based, para patuloy kang manatili sa isang organisasyon o sa isang institusyon. So parang lahat ng uuwi, lahat ng magbabakasyon ay may pabaon. It’s a norm, it’s a tradition if it is happening as a norm, kahit unofficial ‘yan,” he added.
(In hazing, it is being done like a tradition, a frat-based affair, so you can remain loyal with the organization or institution. So everyone who will go home or go on vacation, they will have a send off.)
Under the Revised Penal Code, a suspect found guilty of homicide may be imprisoned from twelve years and one day to twenty years. However, the country’s anti-hazing laws under R.A. No. 11053 now mandates reclusion perpetua and a penalty of P3 million if the consequence of the hazing is death.
Fortun also asked whether PMMA Superintendent Commodore Joel Abutal was satisfied with the homicide complaints against Gloria, and whether he thinks a complaint for hazing should have been filed.
Abutal said that it is not up to them to decide whether the suspect should be charged for a specific case.
“Sir the administration of PMMA cooperate as much as we can to the proper authorities and it is not for us to decide kung ano ‘yong magiging status,” Abutal said.
When asked again if they are satisfied with the recommendation of the local police, Abutal answered in the affirmative.
“Because that’s what the investigation says sir. Yes sir,” he said.
Earlier, Fortun released messages from the victim and video clips that would allegedly show that hazing has been a normal occurrence at the PMMA.
Bondoc, 19, a native of Butuan City, died of a head injury after Gloria allegedly punched him during a “traditional recognition” of Mindanao’s underclass cadets.
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