2 ex-PMA cadets get 30-day jail term for assault prior to fatal hazing | Inquirer News
Main trial for murder, hazing law violation still ongoing

2 ex-PMA cadets get 30-day jail term for assault prior to fatal hazing

/ 05:44 AM August 06, 2023

2 ex-PMA cadets get 30-day jail term for assault prior to fatal hazing

PMA cadet Darwin Dormitorio (Photo from his Facebook page)

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippines — Two former cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) were sentenced to 30 days in jail for physical injuries inflicted on a younger cadet a day before he received heavier beatings that would ultimately cause his death.

One of the two convicted cadets still faces a separate and more serious set of charges — for murder and violation of the antihazing law — over the death of Darwin Dormitorio, 20.


Had he lived to finish his course, Dormitorio would have been part of the PMA Madasigon Class that graduated in May this year.


In a 100-page decision promulgated on Friday, Judge Roberto Mabalot of Baguio Municipal Trial Court of Cities Branch 1 found Julius Tadena and Christian Zacarias guilty of slight physical injuries for what they did to Dormitorio on Sept. 17, 2019.

Both third-class cadets at the time, Tadena and Zacarias were expelled from the PMA shortly after the incident came to light. Taser used

In his decision, Mabalot cited the testimonies establishing Tadena’s use of a taser to torture the victim in Room 209 of the PMA cadet barracks. Zacarias, on the other hand, was cited for kicking Dormitorio repeatedly.

These assaults were carried out by the accused cadets purportedly to enforce PMA rules on Dormitorio, then a plebe or freshman cadet. They supposedly mistook Dormitorio’s sluggishness that day for “malingering,” especially after the latter was found using another cadet’s bed.

Dormitorio died on Sept. 18, 2019, or a day after the beatings cited in the physical injuries case.

Court martial ruling

In the main case arising from the fatal hazing, Tadena also stands accused with two other seniors, Felix Lumbag Jr. and Shalimar Imperial Jr. Their trial for murder and hazing is nearing conclusion at Branch 5 of the Baguio Regional Trial Court (RTC).Last month, Tadena, Lumbag, and Imperial were convicted of violating military rules in court martial proceedings that were conducted parallel to the RTC hearings.


“They are incarcerated in a military stockade and are being brought to Baguio to attend their criminal trials,” said Baguio Prosecutor Maria Nenita Opiana, one of the prosecutors handling the Dormitorio cases.

Jose Adrian Bonifacio, private counsel for the victim’s family, said the military tribunal sentenced Tadena, Lumbag and Imperial to a jail term of 12 to 20 years for violating the Military Articles of War, particularly Article 17 which prohibits the use of torture as a disciplinary action.

Dormitorio died while undergoing treatment at Fort Del Pilar Station Hospital, where he was brought after being found unconscious at the cadet dormitory.

3 doctors cleared

In another related case decided by Judge Mabalot, the court acquitted the three PMA doctors—Capt. Flor Apple Apostol, Maj. Ofelia Beloy and Lt. Colonel Ceasar Candelaria — who were accused by the prosecution of “reckless imprudence resulting in homicide” over the way they attended to Dormitorio in the weeks prior to the hazing.

According to the complaint against the doctors, they repeatedly failed to detect the real cause of Dormitorio’s abdominal pain each time he went to see them for medical attention. But Mabalot ruled that none of the doctors were “negligent since they treated the patient,” nor did they show “an inexcusable lack of precaution.”

Forensic experts from the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation testified that Dormitorio’s genitals bore second-degree burns. The prosecution used these accounts to further pin down Tadena in the physical injuries case.

According to records presented in court, Dormitorio succumbed to internal bleeding—his large intestine ruptured and blood vessels torn—caused by multiple blows to the abdomen.

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Dr. Racquel Fortun, a leading forensics expert, testified on these medical findings.


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Court orders arrest of PMA doctors, cadets for Dormitorio hazing death

TAGS: Philippine Military Academy, PMA cadets assault case, PMA hazing

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