Philippine Daily Inquirer

Video of PMA cadets hazing surfaces

- By Jodee A. Agoncillo @jagoncillo­inq —WITH A REPORT FROM KARLSTON LAPNITEN INQ

BAGUIO CITY—A five-minute video showing two cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) being subjected to what appeared to be hazing in their barracks surfaced on Tuesday.

The video, supposedly taken in February last year, was sent to the Inquirer by a source who requested anonymity.

In the video taken by an unidentifi­ed cadet, two cadets believed to be lowerclass­men, were seen hopping while on a squat position. Moments later, an upperclass­man repeatedly kicked one of the cadets who fell to the floor. The cadet was then shoved against the door and choked, while repeatedly punched on the body. The punishment only stopped momentaril­y when another cadet entered the room.

Not an ‘isolated case’

The cadets involved in the video were not immediatel­y identified.

But the video proved that the hazing of Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio was not an “isolated case,” his brother, Dexter, told the Inquirer on Tuesday morning.

“(T)his is what’s happening inside,” Dormitorio said. “Based on the video, [hazing] is deeply embedded in their culture,” he added.

Wasn’t part of training

“When you hear the sounds of the kicks and punches, you’d realize the intensity of the blows. It wasn’t part of the training; the intention to hurt was there,” Dormitorio said.

But the maltreatme­nt suffered by the cadets in the video was “lighter” than what his brother suffered, he added. In one instance on Aug. 19, Dormitorio was beaten continuous­ly for 20 minutes. He died of his injuries on Sept. 18.

Charged with murder and violation of the Anti-hazing Law and Anti-torture Act before the Baguio Prosecutor’s Office were Cadet First Class Axl Ret Sanopao, Cadet Second Class Christian Zacarias. Cadets Third Class Shaliar Imperial, Felix Lumbag Jr., John Vincent Manalo, Julius Carlo Tadena and Rey David John Volante.

Also tagged as respondent­s were Tactics Group Senior Tactical officer Major Rex Bolo and Echo company tactical officer Captain Jeffrey Batistiana, according to a document from Baguio Police Director

Col. Allan Rae Co.

Last week, the PMA said it intended to replace the “cadet culture” with a “more humane” treatment” of cadets.

Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., the academy’s new commandant of cadets, earlier said reforms were being undertaken following Dormitorio’s hazing death.

Reforms welcome

“The reforms that the current administra­tion is doing was ‘very much welcome,’” Dormitorio said. “However, it’s unfortunat­e that they had to wait for something like this to happen before doing something,” he added.

Last year, President Duterte signed the Anti-hazing Act of 2018 or Republic Act No. 11053, which prohibits all forms of hazing.

But Mr. Duterte appeared to backpedal on the law early this month, warning that a ban on fraterniti­es would raise constituti­onal issues. “To be frank about it, you cannot remove [hazing]. Just don’t overdo it,” he said.

Dormitorio conceded as much. “We have not yet tested or applied the law. It is still subject to interpreta­tion by the Department of Justice.”

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