By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM, FROILAN GALLARDO
and HERBIE GOMEZ .
REP. Rufus Rodriguez of the city’s 2nd District over the weekend pointed an accusing finger at Philippine Military Academy (PMA) superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista and called him to step down following the death of a plebe from this city in the military school in Baguio last week.
“How can something like this happen again in the PMA? He (Evangelista) should be made to answer for this,” said Rodriguez of the death of 20-year-old Darwin Dormitorio on Wednesday.
Police said Dormitorio died due to injuries caused by hazing, and PMA officials said at least 20 cadets were being investigated for the death of Dormitorio.
But Rodriguez said while other plebes, presumably upper classmen, had a hand in the hazing, the buck stops at the office of Evangelista.
Rodriguez said the hazing happened inside the military school and a government-run institution at that.
“First, hazing is against the law. If there was an initiation, PMA officials should have been informed, and such activity should have been supervised by at least two,” Rodriguez said.
He said the hazing tradition at the PMA should be stopped for good, pointing out that humiliating and inflicting pain on plebes won’t make them better soldiers.
Dormitorio’s father William is a former Army major and a member of PMA class 1974. The elder Dormitorio figured prominently in the pocket revolt in northern Mindanao in 1989 along with former Col. Alexander Noble,members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (Ram).
Classmates and friends of the young Dormitorio posted on Facebook a heartbreaking letter from the young cadet addressed to his mother and father.
“If may oras po kayo, kahit si kuya or ate na lang ang bumisita. Hindi ko alam kung hanggang kalian ako mako-confine,” the young Domitorio wrote from the hospital where he was confined for stomach pains and vomiting.
On Friday morning, Dormitorio’s teachers and classmates organized a mass offered for Dormitorio at the Xavier University high school in Upper Carmen. The cadet was a graduate of XU Senior High School.
“The Xavier Ateneo community mourns the death of Darwin Dormitorio,” the school community posted on its FB page.
Mayor Oscar Moreno also expressed sadness and disappointment over the death of the young Cagayanon, saying hazing “shattered aimlessly” the dream of “a promising local boy.” He called on the government to bring those responsible for Dormitorio’s death to justice.
On Saturday, Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano extended his condolences to the family Dormitorio, and offered to help them.
“When will this tragic incident end?” Emano asked rhetorically in a statement.
“I believe what Darwin was up to in joining the academy was to be molded and trained the proper way and military discipline and not to die a tragic death. He could have achieved a better future for him and his family, and could be one of those who would offer their lives for his love to our country [sic],” reads part of Emano’s statement.
Emano called on officials running the PMA to strictly impose its policies that would avoid a repeat of the incident even as he urged authorities to exhaust all efforts in bringing to justice those responsible for Dormitorio’s death.