By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
PHILIPPINE Military Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista yesterday stepped down as an offshoot of the hazing death of Cagayanon cadet Darwin Dormitorio at Fort del Pilar in Baguio last week.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of this city’s 2nd District welcomed Evangelista’s resignation but said the PMA head would still need to face a congressional investigation.
“That is the right thing for him to do,” Rodriguez told the Gold Star Daily, saying the general failed in the implementation of the the Anti-Hazing Law in the military school.
Rodriguez said congressmen would start their own investigation into the hazing death at the PMA, and Evangelista would be summoned to shed light on the Dormitorio case and the apparent prevailing culture of hazing at the PMA despite a law that outlaws it.
“He (Evangelista) will be subpoenaed since it happened during his watch, and he must tell us the truth,” Rodriguez said.
The congressman said he was thinking of proposing an amendment to Republic Act 11053, otherwiose known as the Anti-Hazing Law, so that hazing that results in death, rape and mutilation, among others, would be considered a heinous crime.
Rodriguez also called on President Duterte and the Armed Forces leadership to see to it that whoever would replace Evangelista “will not only defend the Constitution but stop hazings in the PMA.”
Evangelista’s successor, he said, must cooperate with investigators so that those responsible for Dormitorio’s death, including PMA faculty members and officials who were in the position to prevent it from happening but didn’t, would be brought to justice.
Outgoing Armed Forces chief-of-staff Benjamin Madrigal Jr. is closely monitoring the investigation into the death of Dormitorio and the hospitalization of two other cadets for alleged hazing, said military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo.
He said Madrigal ordered a “nononsense investigation” following reports that two more PMA fourth class cadets were also hospitalized Sept. 17 and Sept. 22, respectively.
“Both cadets were complaining of pain in their abdomen,” Arevalo said. “They are all fourth class cadets, so they are all classmates. Both cadets are now recovering, responding to medication, and are in stable condition.”
The Armed Forces avoided using the word “hazing.”
Arevalo said the Armed Forces’ position is that “maltreatment or similar malpractices… have no place in the modern, matured, and professional AFP.”
He said the AFP and PMA were pursuing all initiatives to eliminate maltreatment and other forms of abuses in the military.
“Violators are the exception in the Academy rather than the rule. And that of the erring cadets comprise the deviant behavior,” he said. (with reports from PNA)