PMA exec admits failure to enforce anti-hazing law

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Failure to strictly enforce the Anti-Hazing Law was one of the shortcomings of officials of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), causing the death of one its cadets.

This, according to Col. Claro Unson, PMA deputy dean for academics, who was in this city on Wednesday to attend the interment of Darwin
Dormitorio, the cadet who died of hazing at the academy.

Dormitorio, a native of this city, was laid to rest at the Cagayan de Oro Gardens in Barangay Lumbia here.

Unson admitted that PMA failed to ensure the implementation of the law that could have prevented the death of cadet 4th class Darwin Dormitorio and other trainees before him.

“We are just very sorry. We’ve had our shortcomings,” he told local reporters. “We did our best, but our best was not good enough this time.”

However, Unson assured that there would be no cover-up in the ongoing investigation into Dormitorio’s death.

Medical experts said Dormitorio died from blunt force trauma resulting from hazing inside the Fort Gregorio del Pilar facilities in Baguio City.

A number of PMA upperclassmen and officers have either been removed from service or suspended pending the investigation.

“The death of cadet Dormitorio will serve as the rallying point for change and that is actually on maltreatment and hazing, as it is known,” Unson said.

The PMA official also denied the supposed prevailing “culture of retaliation” among PMA’s senior students.

“Actually, most of the cases (of maltreatment) were not planned. Maybe these are spur of the moment. This could be due to orders that were not complied (with), duties that have not been attended to. But I’d like to say that it has never been allowed,” he said.

“As far as we are concerned, it (hazing) is not happening in our site since these acts are conducted behind our backs. These are done in secret,” he added.

Unson said PMA has a thousand cadets managed by 50 tactical officers, and these officials cannot keep tabs on the movements of all the students inside the country’s top military training institution.

“They usually do these acts when no one is watching,” he said, adding that one of their interventions is to inform the cadets and tactical officers on the anti-hazing law.

Following the statement of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa that hazing during his PMA days had made him what he is today as a leader, Unson said, “It is against the law. It should not be done.”

Unson assured those who want to enroll in the PMA that by the time they enter the academy, the actions taken at present shall have taken effect and the outcome of those actions shall have already been felt.

He said the new version of the Anti-Hazing Law, or Republic Act (RA) 11053, should be enough to deter cadets who may want to inflict physical pain on the plebes due to the corresponding punishment and fines.

Under RA 1105, those who are guilty of committing an offense will be meted out with life imprisonment and will be made to pay a penalty of PHP3 million.  Jigger Jerusalem / PNA –