Graduating PMA cadets honor ‘mistah’ who died of hazing
FORT DEL PILAR, BAGUIO CITY—To honor their late “mistah,” the 311 graduating cadets of the Philippine Military Academy’s (PMA) Madasigon Class of 2023 will be sending to Darwin Dormitorio’s family a bull ring (class ring), class saber and other mementos.
“[Dormitorio] continues to be a part of [our class],” said Cadet First Class Edmundo Logronio, Madasigon’s second-highest ranking cadet. He added that for this reason, the late cadet was also entitled to the class memorabilia like the rest of them. Logronio said that their class president had been communicating with Dormitorio’s family in Cagayan de Oro but did not elaborate.
Contacted by the Inquirer, the late cadet’s sister, Dennica, said that no one from their family would be able to attend the PMA graduation on May 21.
Dormitorio, a 20-year-old plebe (freshman cadet), died due to internal injuries he sustained from repeated beatings at the hands of some upperclassmen. He was found unconscious in his room and later pronounced dead on arrival at the PMA Station Hospital on Sept. 18, 2019.
In July 2020, Cadets Third Class Felix Lumbag Jr., Shalimar Imperial Jr. and Julius Carlo Tadena were ordered arrested by a Baguio judge. Lumbag and Imperial were charged with hazing and murder while Tadena was charged with hazing and less serious physical injuries. No bail was set for the trio who also underwent court-martial proceedings for the same case.
Top PMA officials were implicated for “command responsibility” while some doctors at the PMA Station Hospital were charged with murder and negligence.
No other details of the case have been released since October 2019, when the military opened court-martial proceedings against Dormitorio’s senior cadets, shortly before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dormitorio’s death, however, led the PMA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to implement measures to ensure the safety of all cadets and prevent similar cases in the future.
Madasigon, which stands for “Mandirigmang may dangal, simbolo ng galing at pagbangon” (honorable warrior, symbol of greatness and resurgence), will be the first set of cadets to be conferred their degrees under President Marcos.
At a press briefing on Monday, it was announced that Cadet First Class Warren Leonor, 21, a Lipa City native and a son of retired Air Force T/Sgt. Joel Leonor, topped the class and would be entering the same branch of service as his father.
“We were all overwhelmed when we heard the information from the live stream. The whole family is very happy,” his mother, Helen, told the Inquirer.“I’m thankful to him for giving honor to our family,” said his father.
Women account for half of the class’ top 10 graduates: Cadets First Class Nicole Sarmiento, 22, of Butuan City, (third); Zhen Zhen Cayton, 23, of Dupax del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya (fourth); Rojan Macario, 21, of Zamboanga City (sixth); Kimberly Kate Lawingan, 22, of Sadanga, Mountain Province (eighth); and Arla Krish Bahingawan, 23, of Kiangan, Ifugao (tenth). There are 27 female cadets in the class.
The other topnotchers are Logronio, 23, from Manito, Albay, (second); and Cadets First Class Rez Mark Cantor, 22, of Bugallon, Pangasinan, (fifth); Samuel Banac, 22, of Quezon City (seventh); and Rico Jay Fernandez, 21, of Molave, Zamboanga del Sur (ninth).
Proud momMacario’s mother, Lt. Col. Jeanurada Jamih Macario, is the assistant chief of the Police Regional Medical and Dental Unit in the National Capital Region.
Jeanurada said that her daughter had dreamed of being a soldier since she was a Grade 3 student.
“She asked us if we would get angry if she joined the military,” she told the Inquirer. “We just ignored it because we thought it was just the influence of us having had a picture with the cadets before.”
Jeanurada is happy that she will not have just one but two daughters graduating from the PMA. Macario’s sister, Jamih Lynn, 23, is also a member of the Madasigon Class of 2023.
“When my daughters decided to enter the academy, we were all worried,” said the cadets’ mother, a registered nurse like her husband, Lt. Col. Reuben Almendral Macario, who works as a nurse supervisor in Camp Crame, Quezon City.“We wanted them to become nurses or doctors, but these kids already charted their paths to become part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, like Rojan,” she added.