Three cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) tagged as the principal suspects behind the hazing death of Cdt. 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio have been detained and are being investigated, officials said on Sunday.
Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, PMA superintendent, however, refused to disclose the identities of the suspects pending the filing of charges by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“It will be the PNP who will file the charges. I do not want to speculate, maybe by tomorrow (Monday), they will be able to file the cases,” Evangelista told The Manila Times in a text message.
Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesman, said the suspects might be charged with violation of Republic Act (RA) 11053 or the “Anti-Hazing Law.”
Maj. Reynan Afan, the academy’s spokesman, said two of the three suspects were held in the PMA’s stockade, while the third was in a holding center.
Afan added that administrative lapses were also being eyed in the case.
“For now, what we really want to see is if there was something wrong with how our cadets think, especially the upperclassmen,” he said in an interview over DZBB radio.
Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., outgoing Armed Forces chief, directed PMA authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of Dormitorio’s death.
“We will also hand over those responsible to proper authorities and let the wheel of justice turn,” he said in a statement.
“The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) assures that all individuals involved in this unfortunate incident will be made accountable, as we continue to uphold the highest degree of accountability and transparency within our ranks,” he added.
The military chief said the AFP “does not tolerate any kind of action that endangers the lives of all our members, more so future leaders of our organization.”
“We hold every soldier, cadet and civilian employee with the highest standards of professionalism and respect for human life,” Madrigal pointed out.
Initial investigation showed that Dormitorio died of internal hemorrhage.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Sunday said concerned PMA officials must be open to investigation on the death of one of their cadets.
The senator said failure to do so would subject them to “harsh penalties” under the Anti-Hazing Law.
Zubiri and Sen. Panfilo Lacson authored RA 11053, following the death in September 2017 of University of Sto. Tomas law student Horacio Castillo 3rd due to hazing.
“It is distressing to repeat the process of seeking justice for hazing victims, yet, we must soldier on to protect our youth. The death of a promising youth brings us so much grief because we have passed a stern law just last year. It seems fraternities haven’t learned their lessons,” Zubiri said.
“I will speak with Senator Lacson tomorrow (Monday) to see how we can help the family of Darwin Dormitorio seek justice against those murderous bullies,” Zubiri said.
“The young men, who punched out the life of [their] fellow Cdt. Darwin Dormitorio of Cagayan de Oro, are deemed knowledgeable, disciplined and upright. By ganging up on their victim, these young men and their organization or fraternity have thrown out the values espoused by the PMA,” he added.
The parents of Castillo 3rd on Sunday urged lawmakers to make hazing a “heinous crime.”
“I’m asking our lawmakers to include hazing as a heinous crime. Kasi patuloy na dine-disregard siya, eh. Kailangan na gawing heinous siya (Because it is being disregarded, so it should be made a heinous crime),” Carmina Castillo said in a radio interview.
Horacio Jr. said hazing convicts were meted life imprisonment, but if the controversial RA 10592, or the “Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law,” is applied, the sentence could be cut in half.
“The present Anti-Hazing [Law] carries a penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. All the while, we were thinking na d’un ka na sa kulungan mamamatay, pero nalaman na this is only 40 years, and with the GCTA, pwede minsan 50 [percent] off to less than 20 years (we were thinking that the criminal would die in prison, but we found out that this is only a 40-year imprisonment, and with the GCTA it could be halved to less than 20 years),” he added.
WITH BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO AND ARIC JOHN SY CUA