Court martial eyed for PMA officers, cadets in hazing case

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    THE military is eyeing trial by court martial of five military officers and seven cadets of the Philippine Military Academy, who are facing charges in connection with the death by hazing of Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio.

    Military personnel can be discharged from the service through several processes, like court martial and through the Efficiency and Separation Board.

    Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner, commandant of the PMA Cadet Corps, said the seven cadets may be discharged from the service if they are found guilty by the military tribunal.

    “To pave the way for their discharge, we proposed to have a general court martial… That (court martial) is part of the administrative case against them,” Brawner said.
    He said military lawyers are still determining what specific cases would be filed against the cadets before the military tribunal.

    The five officers — PMA hospital commanding officer Lt. Col. Cesar Candelaria, PMA assisting physician Maj. Maria Ofelia Beloy, attending physician Capt. Flor Apple Apostol, senior tactical officer Rex Bolo, and tactical officer Capt. Jeffrey Batistiana — are currently at a holding unit of the AFP, said PMA spokeswoman Capt. Cheryl Tindog.

    The seven cadets — Cadet First Class Axl Rey Sanopao, Cadet Second Class Christian Zacarias, and Cadets Third Class Shalimar Imperial Jr., Felix Lumbag, Julius Carlo Tadena, Rey David John Volante, and John Vincent Manalo — are at the PMA stockade.

    The 12 were charged by the police on Tuesday with violation of the anti-hazing act, anti-torture law, murder, and dereliction of duty for Dormitorio’s death on September 18.

    Tindog said the PMA is still in the process of evaluating if the 12 can be tried by a general court martial.

    “They are facing charges in civilian court and then because they are part of the AFP, they may be tried by court martial,” she said.

    Brawner said the PMA’s baron or corps commander, Cadet First Class Ram Michal Navarro, resigned on Wednesday night for command responsibility over the Dormitorio hazing.

    Navarro’s resignation came more than two weeks after Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista and Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro resigned as PMA superintendent and Corps of Cadet commandant, respectively, for command responsibility.

    Brawner said Navarro was replaced as baron by Cadet First Class Cadet Marion Dale Cordova. He said Navarro has been re-assigned as brigade operations officer.

    “He volunteered to resign following the actions of the (former) superintendent and commandant of cadets. Because of the principle of command responsibility, he also resigned as baron, as brigade commander,” said Brawner of Navarro.

    Brawner said Navarro’s new position is still very important. “In other words, he will run the whole operations of the entire (cadet corps). His role is very critical,” Brawner said of Navarro.

    Brawner said Navarro, who is due to graduate next year, will remain in the academy and his resignation will not affect his “good” academic standing.

    Brawner said no sanction will be imposed on Navarro in connection with the Dormitorio case. “He has no direct hand but because of the principle of command responsibility, he stepped down as (baron).