Philippine judiciary

Court convicts 2 PMA cadets for causing injuries in 2019 hazing death case

Sherwin de Vera

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Court convicts 2 PMA cadets for causing injuries in 2019 hazing death case
(1st UPDATE) The verdict is seen as a bittersweet and partial justice by the family of the victim, cadet Darwin Dormitorio, who died on September 18, 2019, due to serious injuries inflicted by his upperclassmen

BAGUIO, Philippines – A Baguio court has found two Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets guilty in connection with the hazing death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio in 2019.

The Municipal Trial Court for Cities Branch 1 in Baguio convicted Cadet 3rd Class Julius Carlo Tadena of less physical injuries and Cadet 2nd Class Christian Zacarias of slight physical injuries, respectively.

The court also cleared former PMA Station Hospital chief Lieutenant Colonel Ceasar Candelaria and medical officers Captain Flor Apple Apostol and Major Maria Ofelia Beloy of the charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

The verdict was seen as a bittersweet victory and partial justice by the family of the 20-year-old Dormitorio, who died on September 18, 2019, due to serious injuries inflicted by his upperclassmen. 

MTCC Judge Roberto Mabalot ordered Tadena and Zacarias to serve 30 days of aresto menor and pay P100,000 in moral damages and P50,000 in attorneys’ fees.

They were escorted by members of the Military Police Battalion from Camp Aguinaldo Custodial Detention Center.

Major Evangeline Nualda of the custodial team said the two have been staying in the facility since January 14, 2020.

In acquitting the military physicians in the case for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, the court stated, “How Darwin Dormitorio was not properly diagnosed or treated properly in the hospital or PMASH by the attending doctors was not established by the prosecution.”

‘Partial justice’

Dormitorio’s brother Dexter said he and his family had mixed feelings about the decision.

He said the guilty verdict against the cadets only showed that they were liable for the death of his brother.

Dexter said they were disappointed with the acquittal of the military physicians but added that they would respect the court’s decision and processes.

He said he felt Tadena and Zacarias deserve a more serious punishment, and that the sentence did not commensurate with the things they did to his brother Darwin.

“In terms of punishment, hindi siya sapat pero I know may proceedings pa sila sa court martial, so baka may iba pa silang makikitang corresponding punishment pero hindi na kasi kami aware doon,” he told the media after the promulgation.

(In terms of punishment, it may not be sufficient, but I know they still have proceedings in the court martial, so they might face other corresponding punishments. However, we are not aware of those anymore.)

Dexter said his family was determined to pursue other cases related to the death of Darwin as he called the decision on Friday as “partial justice.”

He said cases against other cadets for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law, Anti-Torture Act, and murder were still ongoing in the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, in Baguio City.

Dexter said there was also an administrative case filed against the military doctors before the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

He said he and his family were grateful to the PMA leadership “for allowing the full investigation” of the case and called on the military and its physicians to ensure the health and well-being of their cadets and not to allow another hazing death to take place in the institution. –

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