AFP to 'let wheels of justice turn' in death of PMA cadet

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vowed to hold accountable the persons responsible for the death of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio. 

AFP Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr sent his “heartfelt and sincerest condolences” to Dormitorio’s family on Sunday, September 22.  

“We have already directed the Philippine Military Academy to conduct a thorough and speedy investigation to shed light [on] the incident. We will also hand over those responsible to proper authorities and let the wheels of justice turn,” said Madrigal in a statement.

“The AFP assures [the public] that all individuals involved in this unfortunate incident will be made accountable as we continue to uphold the highest degree of accountability and transparency within our ranks,” he added.

The 20-year-old plebe from Cagayan de Oro City was found unconscious inside Room 209 of Mayo Hall Annex of the PMA campus, Fort General Gregorio del Pilar, in Baguio City at around 3:55 am on Friday, September 20. Dormitorio was rushed to the PMA Station Hospital, where he was declared dead at around 5:15 am.

The Philippine National Police in Baguio City said Dormitorio died due to injuries caused by hazing.

The PMA later admitted Dormitorio died of “blunt force trauma,” short of expressly conceding the plebe died because of hazing. 

In a separate interview, PMA spokesperson Major Reynan Afan told DZBB they currently have in their custody 3 persons of interest in Dormitorio’s killing. 

Two of them whom the PMA found to have a "direct” link to Dormitorio's death are now in stockade confinement, while the 3rd person of interest is being kept in the academy’s holding center.

“Sa proseso kasi ng imbestigasyon, may mapapatunayan na may direktang kaalaman, ‘yung isa pinapatunayan pa lang at maaring may iba na makita. So as of ngayon po, mayroon po tayong dalawa na nakitang may direktang relasyon sa nangyari pong ito,” said Afan. 

(In the process of investigating the incident, we are still trying to know what one person knows about the incident. So as of now, we have determined that two of them have a direct link to what happened here.)

The PMA previously said it would “file appropriate administrative charges and shall apply sanctions to all those who are found responsible” for Dormitorio’s “untimely demise.” 

Dormitorio, a member of PMA Class of 2023, was incorporated only in July.

His death is the latest linked to hazing even with the enactment of a stronger anti-hazing law meant to end the practice. Republic Act No. 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 prohibits hazing and imposes harsher penalties on organizers and participants of hazing. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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