Stop hazing, new PMA head told

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    ARMED Forces chief Lt. Gen. Noel Clement has ordered the incoming superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy to rid the academy of maltreatment or hazing, although he acknowledged it a “daunting task,” the military said yesterday.

    Rear Adm. Allan Cusi is due to assume today the post of PMA superintendent, vice Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista who resigned on Tuesday last week for command responsibility over the death by hazing of Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio.

    Three other cadets are confined at military and private hospitals also for hazing, for which the military uses the term “maltreatment.” On Sunday, the PMA said several other cadets were found to have been hazed based on contusion marks seen on their abdomen during physical examination.

    Seven cadets have been identified as having had direct involvement in Dormitorio’s death.

    AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Clement wants Cusi “to make a positive difference in winning the quest to rid PMA of maltreatment and in leading the reorientation of the cadets on their views of authority and responsibility in the incipient stage of their training as future officers of the AFP.”

    He said Clement is aware that Cusi “faces a complex and daunting task of curbing, and ultimately, eliminating the malady brought by maltreatment in the soonest possible time” but is confident the new PMA head will succeed “given his known competence as a trainer, mentor, leader, and commander in various levels of command and staff positions.”

    Arevalo said Cusi’s previous assignments as head of the PMA’s Tactics Group, which deals with cadet leadership development and training and as commander of the Naval Educational and Training Command “will be valuable in his new post.”

    A senior military official who is a product of the academy expressed doubt the academy can be rid of hazing.

    “Since the start of PMA (in 1898), hazing is not allowed. PMA never tolerated hazing. But it’s happening because of what we call this, imposition of discipline of the upper class on the underclass. Instead of using other methods of discipline, that (hazing) is the fastest and you get immediate results,” the source said.

    “Another thing is what we call the Lucifer effect. Once you are given absolute authority over a plebe, what are you are going to do. Whoever is given absolute authority, what he is going to do?,” he said.

    He said there are many disciplinary measures that can be imposed on fourth class cadets but these measures can still be construed as hazing.

    “Example, instead of physical contact, require the plebe to swim in the swimming pool for one hour, 2 o’clock in the morning. That is also imposition of discipline, though the effect is not immediate,” he said.

    Told that that can still be a form of hazing, the source said: “It’s still hazing but for his (plebe’s) good. It makes him stronger. Or you can order him to run. But the problem is the mindset, one wants immediate results by punching the plebe. It’s continuous gratification,” he said.

    Meanwhile, military probers are determining whether sanctions need to be imposed on Evangelista and Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, resigned PMA Cadet Corps commandant, in connection with the hazing cases.

    “That’s part of the IG (inspector general) task,” said Clement.

    Clement ordered the probe on Wednesday last week, a day after he took over as AFP chief from now retired Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. The probe is separate from the administrative and criminal investigation being conducted by the PMA and the PNP.

    Bacarro’s successor, Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., formally assumed the post on Thursday last week. Brawner has declared a war on hazing and said he has gotten the verbal assurance of the cadets to cooperate.