CDO congressman calls for resignation of PMA head over hazing death

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Monday, September 23, called for the resignation of the head of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) following the death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio on campus.

Dormitorio hails from Cagayan de Oro City, and his father, Colonel William Dormitorio is a member of the PMA Class 1974 and served the 4th Infantry Division as operations officer until his retirement in the 1990s.

The young man died due to hazing injuries within the premier military training institution.

Rodriguez called on to Lieutenant General Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, PMA superintendent, to resign, blaming him for allowing hazing to occur inside Fort Gregorio del Pilar in Baguio City.

“It happened during his (Evangelista's) watch. It should not have happened because we already have the Anti-Hazing Law, and it happened inside a government facility at that. That’s why I’m holding him responsible,” Rodriguez said.

The congressman added that the PMA board should replace Evangelista with someone who can make sure that hazing won't happen again inside the PMA.

Sought for his comment on the Cagayan de Oro solon's call, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the PMA board would look into the matter.

"Papag-aralan natin. Titingnan natin muna kung ano'ng dapat gawin. We are going to do the best thing for the academy, para hindi masira yung pangalan nung academy," Lorenzana said. (We'll study that. We will first see what should be done. We are going to do what's best for the academy, what will make sure its reputation is not harmed.)

Rodriguez also wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation into Dormitorio's death.

"With the NBI at the helm, the public is assured that there will be no bias or a cover-up in the investigation," Rodriguez said.

The PNP is conducting an investigation into the death of Dormitorio and tags 3 upperclassmen as suspects. Two more PMA cadets have been identified as persons of interest. 

"I believe there were more cadets and PMA officials involved in the death of Dormitorio," Rodriguez said.

Dormitorio's older brother Dexter told the media that Darwin was hospitalized 3 times before he died and yet the PMA administration kept their mouth shut about it.

“Why didn’t they (PMA) inform Darwin’s parents? They (parents) could have extended assistance to him. I believe what happened to him was a continuing initiation, considering the fact that he was admitted to the hospital thrice,” Rodriguez added.

On Monday, AKO Bicol Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr filed House Resolution No. 368 directing the appropriate House committee to conduct a probe into the death of Dormitorio.

“We have zero tolerance for hazing. The murderers and hazers of Darwin Dormitorio were devoid of any humanity when they tortured him to death. We must not let their utterly heinous acts go unpunished to the fullest extent of the law," said Garbin. – with report from Mara Cepeda and JC Gotinga/Rappler.com