By Martin Sadongdong and Aaron Recuenco
Another batchmate of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) hazing victim Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio was allegedly maltreated and hospitalized, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) revealed Tuesday night.
Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, said the victim, also a cadet fourth class or a plebe, was taken to the V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City on Monday.
Arevalo said the victim initially complained of stomach ache and was initially diagnosed by doctors to be suffering from gastroenteritis. He was immediately discharged from the hospital.
However, when the cadet returned to the hospital due to the same medical complaint, Arevalo said: “Nakitaan na siya ng markings.”
The latest victim is the third batchmate of Dormitorio taken to the hospital.
Prior to this, a plebe was sent to the hospital on September 17, and another one on September 21 due to alleged maltreatment.
All three cadets showed tell-tale signs of maltreatment and are suspected to have sustained pancreatic lacerations, the reason they all complained of stomach ache. They are still confined at the hospital but Arevalo said they are already in stable condition.
However, one of the cadets had to be transferred to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig after showing signs of hazing.
The development came just as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ordered the PMA management to conduct a physical examination on all first-year cadets.
Arevalo said the military is still verifying if the fresh cases were related to the hazing to death of Dormitorio, who died on September 18 after suffering from stomach pain and vomiting.
PMA officials and police later said Dormitorio died from hazing.
This led to the resignation of Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista as superintendent of the PMA, and Brig. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro as Commandant of Cadets.
Four upperclassmen of Dormitorio were dismissed from the service, with three of them facing criminal cases.
Two other cadets were suspended, one was meted with a Class 1 punishment, and four academy officials relieved from post due to the incident.
Justice for Dormitorio vowed
Meanwhile, the AFP on Wednesday said it will not stop until all the personalities behind the death of Dormitorio are prosecuted and punished.
Arevalo said they are coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its criminal investigation now that the academy has wrapped up its administrative probe.
“We will not stop until cases are heard and verdicts are rendered against those who are guilty of the crime in varying degrees of liability and culpability and that justice has been rendered to the victims,” he said.
He also assured that the AFP will revisit existing cadet regulations and policies “to eliminate maltreatment from recurring in the academy.”
Arevalo expressed hope that Dormitorio’s three batchmates, remained confined in the hospital, would cooperate with the investigators to reveal the personalities who hurt them.
“I think we will be able to encourage them to speak up because we want to point out here what disciplinary actions are legal, and what are not,” he said.
Arevalo said the three cadets need not to be afraid of being marked as “squealers” or those who break the “Code of Silence” in the academy, by the other cadets when they go back inside the PMA.
“We need to reorient them that an unlawful act that was committed should not be tolerated. There is no shame in revealing the illegalities that are being done inside the academy, it is part of their training and values formation to stand up to the truth,” Arevalo said.
The physical examination of all PMA first year cadets is being done on orders of Lorenzana, Arevalo said.
Lorenzana also instructed the PMA to get to the bottom of the case and find out the reason behind the hazing to death of Dormitorio.
Lost combat boots
The Baguio police, meanwhile, a missing combat boots of a graduating cadet of the PMA was the reason Dormitorio was subjected to maltreatment, a police official said Wednesday.
Col. Allen Rae Co, director of the Baguio City police, said that based on the investigation Dormitorio was entrusted with the combat boots of Cadet First Class Axl Rey Sanupao.
“The boots were entrusted to Cadet Dormitorio but they went missing. Cadet 1st Class Sanupao then endorsed Cadet Dormitorio to the two Third Class Cadets,” said Co, adding that the “endorsement” occurred on September 17.
He was referring to Cadet 3rd Class Felix Lumbag and Cadet 3rd Class Shalimar Imperial, who were earlier tagged as having direct participation in the maltreatment of Dormitorio.
Based on the investigation of the PMA, it was Cadet 1st Class Sanupao who encouraged the maltreatment.
The three cadets are now facing dismissal charges from the PMA. They are also expected to be slapped with violation of the Anti-Hazing Law.
According to Co, there were no blunt objects used in maltreating Dormitorio.
“Kamay at paa lang po ang ginamit. Yung tinamo niya as of now hindi pa natatapos pero wala pong mga kahoy, mga pamalo kung hindi kamay at paa lang,” said Co.
Dormitorio was found unconscious in his barracks early morning on September 18. According to the other cadets interviewed by investigators, Dormitorio was vomiting and was complaining of stomachache before he was found unconscious.
The 20-year old plebe of the PMA was declared dead inside the hospital in the Academy at Fort del Pilar in Baguio City.