Año: Cadet picked on for squealing

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    SEVEN upperclassmen of Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio wanted the plebe to quit from the Philippine Military Academy after he squealed and identified two of those who beat him up, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said yesterday.

    Año said this was based on a report submitted to him by Col. Laalen Rae Co, chief of the Baguio City police which is investigating Dormitorio’s death last month.

    The seven cadets, identified to have had direct participation in the hazing that led to Dormitorio’s death, will be charged this week, Año said.

    “Pinipilit nilang mag-quit si Dormitorio. Yun ang objective nila (They were forcing Dormitorio to quit, that was their objective),” Año said in an interview with radio dzBB.

    He said Dormitorio’s ordeal started when two of his upperclassmen maltreated him, which led to his confinement at the PMA Station Hospital from August 20 to 27.

    During the confinement, Año said, hospital officials noticed hematoma marks on Dormitorio’s body, prompting them to report the matter to PMA tactical officers as those were hazing marks.

    He said the tactical officers conducted an investigation, during which Dormitorio was compelled to identify the two upperclassmen who beat him up. One was Cadet Third Class Felix Lumbag who, he said.

    He said this triggered the upperclassmen to pick on Dormitorio because he was a “squealer.”

    “So, mula noon ay naging hell na yung buhay niya. Parang itong pito na ito, if I will describe, ito parang gang ito na sila yung nag-usap-usap, anuhin natin ito… It’s a gang of seven ito. They just hit Dormitorio anywhere (So, from that day on, his life became hell.

    These seven cadets, if I will describe, are like gang members who will talk among themselves just to gang up on the plebe… It’s a gang of seven. They just hit Dormitorio anywhere),” Año said.

    Año said cadets could not lie during investigations. “Hindi puwede yung code of silence diyan. Ang gusto ng mga upperclass niya ay huwag siya magsalita at (huwag) umamin.

    (The code of silence is not allowed. His upperclassmen wanted him to shut his mouth and not tell the truth).”

    On September 5, Dormitorio was again hospitalized due to injuries on his neck inflicted by the seven cadets. Hazing was repeated several times in the barracks after Dormitorio was discharged from the hospital, Año said.

    Año also said the tactical officer had several chances to intervene but did not do so until Dormitorio was severely beaten last September 17 over an alleged missing pair of boots entrusted to him by Cadet First Class Axl Rey Sanupao.

    Dormitorio was found unconscious early September 18 and was declared dead at the PMA Station Hospital hours later.

    An autopsy report said the plebe’s kidneys, liver, and pancreas were damaged.

    Aside from Lumbag and Sanupao, the Baguio police has named Cadet Third Class Shalimar Imperial as among the seven who had direct participation in Dormitorio’s death. The four others have yet to be named.

    Police said one of the seven suspects turned over a taser flashlight which was used to electrocute Dormitorio’s genitals.

    The PMA leadership also dismissed for command responsibility Cadet Second Class Nickoel Termil, Dormitorio’s squad leader.

    Suspended were Cadets First Class Christian Correa, the platoon leader, and Elbert Lucas, commanding officer.

    Dormitorio is a son of retired Army Col. Willy Dormitorio, a member of the PMA Class 1974.

    Lt. Gen Ronnie Evangelista has resigned as PMA superintendent for command responsibility, together with Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro who was commandant of cadets.

    ‘BEST SHOT’

    New PMA chief Rear Adm. Allan Cusi vowed to do his best to rid the PMA of hazing as he criticized some alumni who manhandle cadets to command respect.

    “We’ll fix this (problem), I will give it my best shot,” Cusi told reporters yesterday shortly after assuming the top PMA post during rites presided by AFP chief Lt. Gen. Noel Clement at the PMA grounds in Baguio City.

    “You change the heart and the soul first by setting the best example for our cadets. That’s why it’s very critical to have the best of the best assigned here in PMA,” said Cusi, the outgoing Navy vice commander and head of the Naval Education, Training and Doctrine Command.

    Cusi acknowledged that he is up to a great challenge, thus he asked the support of the various stakeholders, including the cadets and PMA alumni who he implied are contributing to the culture of maltreatment.

    “You glamorize maltreatment. You use the phrase ‘during our time.’ It gives the impression that during their time, they are rotting more than the cadets,” said Cusi.

    Cusi declined to discuss in detail the measures he will put in place to address the hazing problem.

    “The challenge of eradicating maltreatment in the academy is a burden that I alone cannot bear. it’s a burden that is bigger than the rest of the PMA community combined. Declaring an all out-war against hazing is not enough,” said Cusi.

    “Totally eradicating hazing is a burden that must be carried by all PMA alumni and all officers in the AFP,” added Cusi.

    The military earlier said three other cadets are confined at military and private hospitals for hazing. Over the weekend, the PMA said several other cadets were found to have been hazed based on physical examination ordered by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. – With Victor Reyes

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