Cadets tagged as suspects behind the brutal death of Cdt. 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio will be facing charges for violation of Article of War 97 in a general court martial (GCM).
Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., commandant of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet Corps, on Tuesday said the academy had already locked in on its decision to have the seven cadets involved in Dormitorio’s case to face military court trials.
Citing the Judge Advocate General’s Office’s decision, Brawner added that the cadets would be charged for violating Article of War 97 or conduct prejudicial of good order and military discipline.
Under the Articles of War, the 97th provision is described as “General Article”: “Though not mentioned in these articles, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, and all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the military service, shall be taken cognizance of by a general or special court-martial according to the nature and degree of the offense, and punished at the discretion of the court.”
Brawner said appropriate administrative charges had been filed against the cadets and the officers tagged in the case of Dormitorio.
The seven cadets who were charged last week with murder and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law are Cdt. 1st Class Axl Rey Sanupao, Cdt. 2nd Class Christian Zacarias, and Cadets 3rd Class Shalimar Imperial Jr., Felix Lumbag Jr., Julius Carlo Tadena and Rey David John Volante.
The officers also charged before the Baguio City Prosecutor’s Office were Maj. Rex Bolo, Cpt. Jeffrey Batistiana, Cpt. Flor Apple Apostol, Maj. Maria Ofelia Beloy and Lt. Col. Cesar Candelaria.
Since the cadets are currently facing administrative charges at the PMA level, they would have to undergo court-martial proceedings, Brawner said, but he added that he had no idea when the military court would be convened.
“The procedure has already started to call for a general court martial and first, the members of the general court martial should be determined first,” he said.
Brawner noted though that the GCM would be supervised by the military’s general headquarters, which is headed by Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Noel Clement.
He, however, said he was not sure whether the officers also included in the case would also be required to face the military court trials.
Cpt. Cheryl Tindog, PMA spokesman, said the officers’ cases would have to be evaluated and decided on by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), while the cadets’ cases would be handled by the PMA.
Tindog added that the five officers are currently held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, where the AFP’s main headquarters are located, while the cadets are in Fort del Pilar in Baguio City.
In September, Dormitorio died after a series of physical abuses by his upperclassmen at the PMA, as uncovered by police investigators.
His death prompted an order from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to have all freshmen cadets undergo physical examination, after which four plebes were brought to hospitals — three to the V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon City and one to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City — after bruises were found on their bodies.