PMA: Best time to join the academy

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    SADDLED with the hazing controversy that led to the death of Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio, the Philippine Military Academy is saying now is the best time for aspiring military officers to join the academy.

    PMA spokeswoman Capt. Cheryl Tindog said the Baguio City-based academy, under the leadership of Rear Adm. Allan Cusi, is taking serious efforts to rid the military school of the practice of hazing and “maltreatment.”

    “This is the best time to join the Philippine Military Academy because we are very serious in instituting reforms in eradicating malpractices and in ensuring that maltreatment and hazing will be eradicated once and for all,” she said.

    Tindog said it is “normal” for some to be scared of the academy because of the hazing incidents which were made public through media, including the Dormitorio’s death on September 18. Four other cadets were hospitalized in other hazing cases last month.

    Last week, the PMA uncovered two more hazing cases that occurred in 2017 and 2018, through videos spread online. Five cadets were confined at the PMA holding center, facing investigation. A sixth cadet was dismissed last year for violation of the PMA honor code.

    “That (fear) is a normal feeling but on the part of the PMA leadership, we are addressing these (concerns)… We want to encourage them (aspiring officers) this is the best time to join the PMA because of the reforms we are instituting,” said Tindog.

    The reforms, Tindog said, include telling cadets that hazing has no room in the academy. About two weeks ago, she said the cadet corps signed a manifesto not to engage in hazing or tolerate it.

    Over a thousand passed the PMA entrance examination held in various sites in August for next year’s batch of plebes, said Tindog. She said the passers have until December to report to the AFP Medical Center for physical examination.

    “They can still withdraw. If they don’t report or take the next step, which is physical examination in V. Luna (AFP Medical Center in Quezon City), that means they are no longer interested,” said Tindog.

    So far, Tindog said, about 50 percent of the passers have reported to the AFP Medical Center for the medical examination.

    They will be subjected to more medical examination if they pass the initial medical test, followed by interview. If they pass all the tests, they will be welcomed by the PMA in a reception ceremony prior to the start of the school year.

    On the call of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. for the PMA to suspend the recruitment of cadets amid the hazing cases, Tindog said this will affect the flow of officers into the Armed Forces.

    “This will have an effect in the fill-up of the requirement of the AFP in terms of leaders who will be assuming responsibility in national security… If we suspend the recruitment, there will be a gap, the requirement of AFP (for officers) will be cut,” said Tindog.

    “I’m sure they are making this kind of recommendation because they care for the academy and for the cadet corps,” said Tindog. “What we are trying to do is focus on the problem (hazing), we’re looking into the root causes so we can address them, offer solution so once and for all, we can do away with hazing and maltreatment inside the academy,” said Tindog.