A possible cover up of “tolerated” hazing activities within the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy surfaced during a congressional hearing where video footages of physical abuse against cadets and Facebook messenger conversations supporting such allegations were presented on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
Based on new evidence presented, the congressional inquiry may trigger the reopening of the police investigation into the death of 3rd Class Cadet Jonash Bondoc and implicate more individuals, aside from former 2nd Class Cadet Jomel Gloria who admitted responsibility to victim’s demise.
Siblings of the late 3rd Class Cadet Jonash Bondoc presented the pieces of evidences before members of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education that could link certain PMMA officials, trainers and upperclassmen to what appeared to be a tolerated illegal hazing activities in the campus in San Narciso, Zambales.
The House panel agreed to hold a special session to assess more video footages and other evidence that will help lawmakers draw a conclusion of their inquiry.
Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun noted that the police may have filed the wrong case against former 2nd Class Cadet Jomel Gloria who admitted having punched Bondoc twice in the chest before the victim fell unconscious and later died on June 6 at the toilet of the PMMA cadets dormitory.
Fortun said the homicide charge may not be the proper case to be filed against Gloria because the medical certificate indicated that Bondoc had bruises, hematoma contusions not only in the chest, but also to his neck, head, and extremities.
“Did you not find it quite inconsistent that Gloria only mentioned punching him on the head but he had hematoma, contusions in the head, kahit na sa leeg, dibdib, tiyan at (even on the neck, chest, abdoment and) extremities?” Fortun asked police investigator Sgt. Leo Barrera.
“I find it strange that PMMA will simply accept the recommendation of homicide. Meron naman tayo dokumento na ipinakikita na magkaiba ang confession ni Gloria at ang medico legal findings. (We have documents showing the difference between Doria’s confession and the medico legal findings),” he added.
The Mindanaoan solon said hazing, instead of homicide, is the more apt case that should be filed against Gloria and others who might be linked to the tragedy.
Compared to homicide, hazing carries maximum penalty of life imprisonment and P3 million on convicted violators because the incident resulted in the death of another person.
` Fortun presented the victim’s siblings, Jelou, Glaiza and Joshua who showed the House panel a video clip of alleged PMMA upperclassmen physically abusing several individuals who were reported to be lower class cadets.
Also, screen shots of Facebook Messenger conversation were shown lawmakers to prove that inflicting physical pain and hazing against cadets, particularly Joshua, have become common and could be part of a “tradition” of training PMMA students.
“Nawawala lang din ang sakit, normal lang ‘yan dito. (The pain goest away, that is normal here),” Joshua wrote to his brother, Jelou on October 13, 2020.
In one message sent by Jonash’ friend to his sister, Glaiza, the victim stated: “I am so f… stressed and timed mentally and physically. Pero sige lang, kakayanin kahit ano hirap. Bugbog na bugbog na ako, physically and mentally… masyadong draining (It’s okay, I can take any suffering. I’m beat-up, physically and mentally, it’s very draining).” In a Messenger conversation between Jonash and a friend, the former stated: “May nahimatay nga. May nag-nose bleed, May nahihilo at natutumba na lang bigla. (Somebody passed out already. Another had a nose bleed, Another has become drowsy or just fall over).
In another message, Joshua said one cannot avoid allowing himself to undergo hazing because those who quit are tagged as ‘weaklings’.
Asked by Go to comment on the evidence presented, Commodore Joel Abutal, PMMA superintendent, said he cannot at the moment.
“We are not in a position to comment on the matter especially since these were not reported to us,” he said.