By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
THE deputy dean for academics of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) yesterday apologized for what he admitted to be shortcomings of the military school that factored in the hazing death of Cagayanon cadet 4th class Darwin Dormitorio.
“We are just very sorry. We’ve had our shortcomings,” said Col. Claro Unson, the PMA deputy dean said during Dormitorio’s interment at the Cagayan de Oro Gardens in Barangay Lumbia here yesterday morning. “We did our best, but our best was not good enough this time.”
Unson assured Dormitorio’s family that there would be no cover-up in the ongoing investigation into the 20-year-old plebe’s death last week.
He admitted that the PMA failed in fully implementing the Anti-Hazing Law, something that could have prevented the death of Dormitorio.
Medical experts said Dormitorio died as a result of blunt force trauma resulting from hazing inside the Fort Gregorio del Pilar facilities in Baguio City.
Reports said a number of PMA upperclassmen and officers have either been removed or suspended pending 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.
But Unson said the hazing death may not be a result of a widely perceived prevailing “culture of retaliation” among the PMA’s upperclassmen.
“Actually, most of the cases (of hazing) were not planned. Maybe, these are spurs of the moment. These could be due to orders that were not complied, duties that have not been attended to. But I’d like to say that it has never been allowed,” the Academy official said.
“As far as we are concerned, it (hazing) is not happening in our site since these acts are conduct behind our backs. These are done in secret,” he said.
Unson said the PMA has a thousand cadets supervised by 50 tactical officers, and these officials cannot keep tabs of 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 of the Anti-Hazing Law.
His response to retired police general and now Sen. Ronald dela Rosa pronouncement that hazing during his PMA days made him what he is today as 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 would already have taken effect and the outcome of those actions would have already been felt.
He said the Anti-Hazing Law or Republic Act 11053 is enough to prevent upperclass cadets from inflicting physical pain on plebes due to the corresponding punishments, including fines.
Based on RA 11053, an offender can be imprisoned for life and made to pay as much as P3 million as penalty.