THIS should be a strangely welcome opportunity for the seven PMA cadets criminally charged in the hazing death of Fourth Class Cadet Darwin Dormitorio to be guided by the academy’s Honor Code. But discharged and disgraced they hardly think about it. Their lawyers will do what they think is best for them – plead not guilty – and ensure that their case drags on until heaven knows when.
Most major cases of fatal hazing have gone this way and most of the accused had either been acquitted or had vanished. And highly-paid lawyers, to earn their keep, have wearied down witnesses and the families of the victims. And to think that some the country’s prestigious universities have turned away from morality and civility to breed blood-thirsty fraternity men.
The seven accused ignored the code by making sure that Dormitorio and other injured plebes lied through their teeth instead of disclosing the real cause of their injuries that would have incriminated their senior torturers. And after maltreating and killing Dormitorio, they think they can face the law honorably after breaking it.
Will the worst of times bring out the best in them? It may be that the only way to save the PMA’s cherished image and historical glory is for them to do the almost unthinkable for suspects in celebrated criminal cases – admit the crime and take the full brunt of the debacle.
The public blame would somehow lift from the academy, its officials and cadets. They will be treated as criminals before a court martial that is soon to convene and, as they put up their legal defense shielding themselves with lies and fabrications they will continue to further deface the revered institution. More than ever, the honor system should dawn on the suspects and seize them with a heaviness they cannot bear.
The PMA administration and its officials should not leave them to their own devices to prevent further erosion of trust and respect within and outside its walls. The upcoming court martial will turn into a huge spectacle of the suspects’ lawyers mouthing a tall-tale version of the incidents of torture before the anguished loved ones and friends of Dormitorio. This scene will play out day after day portraying the accused cadets as decent and upright while TV cameras capture the tormented faces of the families of the victim shrouded in gloom and utter dismay. And if only because of this, the suspects should be made to face the law with honor and remorse instead of allowing them to hide behind their lawful right to protect themselves from prison by lying again and again.
In stepping down before his compulsory date of retirement early next month, outgoing PNP chief Oscar Albayalde has defused the internal dissension among PNP officials and personnel at Camp Crame.
His woes began after his almost stunning rise as top cop. Albayalde was not a fair-haired boy of Malacanang but was a mistah of then outgoing PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, who would tell President Duterte that Albayalde was the smartest among his PMA batchmates.
But what won the President over to him was when he learned that most PNP personnel and officers were wary of Albayalde, who was especially strict and stern as NCRPO chief. He would become hot media copy as he regularly conducted surprise inspections in the middle of the night at police precincts in Metro Manila and would suspend or fire errant cops sleeping or absent during their duty hours. It was something none of his predecessor had done.
The President knew he had found the right man to lead and reform the PNP which he would frequently describe as “rotten to the core.”
Many senior officers have remained disgruntled with Albayalde’s appointment and Albayalde himself and one of his big mistakes was his failure to mend fences with them. He allowed himself to be secluded from a powerful group of retired officers led by the unquestionably upright Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong. Suddenly, his stature and achievements have been overcome by ghosts in his past. Suddenly, the President takes a beating from the irony that he so thought marked Albayalde as incorruptible.