MILITARY authorities have found grounds to try by court martial seven Philippine Military Academy cadets who are facing criminal charges in a civilian court for the death of Fourth Class Cadet Darwin Dormitorio last month.
The seven will face the military tribunal for violation of the Article of War 97 or conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., PMA Cadet Corps commandant, said yesterday.
“A general court martial will be formed at the general headquarters and they will be trying the administrative case of these cadets… They will be charged with Article of War 97… that’s the initial charge that will be filed against them,” he said.
“Because of the gravity of the case, a general court martial has to be convened… We are just selecting the members (of the tribunal) and then the court martial will be convened,” he added.
Violation of AW 97 is punishable with dishonorable discharge from the service. There are other ways to discharge military personnel, including through the Efficiency and Separation Board.
Brawner said the court martial trial will “run parallel” to the criminal cases filed against the cadets.
On Tuesday last week, police filed charges of violation of the anti-hazing and anti-torture laws, for murder, and for dereliction of duty against the seven — 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.
Five military officers were also charged by the police for Dormitorio’s death — 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. They are in the custody of the Armed Forces in Camp Aguinaldo.
Brawner said he can speak only about the cadets because they are only the ones who are under PMA jurisdiction.
Brawner could not immediately say when the general court martial will be convened but “the procedure to call a court martial has already started.”
“We still have to determine the members of the court martial,” he added.
Brawner said the seven cadets will remain in the custody of the military during the duration of the court martial.