Legislators want PGH, DoH to check on heath of PMA, PNPA cadets

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By Rose de la Cruz

 

Partylists Reps. Alfredo Garbin, AKO Bicol and Bernadette Herrera, Bagong Henerasyon, asked the Philippine General Hospital to check on the health of Philippine Military Academy and Philippine National Police Academy cadets in view of deaths and injuries from initiation rites that include hazing.

 

They both reacted to the death of another PMA cadet, Mario Telan Jr., cadet 4th class, who was found at the bottom of the PMA swimming pool last Friday.

 

According to investigation, upper-class cadets searched for the victim at 1:20 p.m. They proceeded to the PMA's Jurado Hall and found the cadet’s belongings in the comfort room of the swimming pool.

 

After an hour-long search, the cadet was found at the bottom of the swimming pool at 2:44 p.m. 

 

He was rushed to Fort del Pilar Station Hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

 

PMA, in a statement, said "all needed actions and protocols are being undertaken to deal with any infraction and/or irregularity."

 

It added that swimming classes are suspended "until such time that the incident has been properly addressed."

 

"PMA deeply grieves for this unfortunate loss of one of our sons. All necessary assistance will be extended to the bereaved family and loved ones," it added. 

 

Dormitorio

 

The incident comes nearly 2 months after the fatal hazing of cadet Darwin Dormitorio.

 

Dormitorio died on Sept. 18 after sustaining hazing-related injuries. 

 

Both representatives said they await the findings of the Baguio City police investigation as they also asked Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong "to do everything he possibly can to make sure no stone is left unturned and that the PNP investigation is conducted with utmost professionalism and integrity."

 

"We urge the PMA to fully disclose the physical and medical condition of every PMA cadet now at the Academy. We ask the Public Attorney's Office and Philippine General Hospital to go to the PMA now to render legal and medical assistance. We implore upon the PMA to give the PAO and PGH unfettered access to the cadets, especially the 4th Class Cadets," Garbin also said.

 

Garbin who authors the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 appealed to Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong "to exercise his supervisory authority over the Baguio PNP as provided in the Local Government Code."

 

"We appeal to the Philippine Military Academy, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Department of National Defense to keep the PMA from deteriorating into a graveyard where parents and communities send some of the best of the Filipino youth," Garbin also said.

 

"No parent wants to send their beloved son or daughter to die at the PMA even before they graduate," said Garbin, Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Justice.

 

Similarly, Rep. Herrera, who co-authors the anti-hazing act, said the PGH or the Department of Health should be allowed to check on the health of all cadets at the Philippine National Police Academy in the wake of the reported case of hazing there.

 

Short memory

 

“The caretaker head of the Philippine National Police has a short memory. This year’s hazing incident is not isolated. He forgets the hazing-sodomy case only last year wherein three PNP Academy cadets were dismissed for forcing two new cadets to perform oral sex on them. In 2017, there was another hazing incident caught on video and it even involved a police officer,” Herrera said.

 

“Please do not tell the Filipino people that this new incident is isolated because you have not yet checked the other cadets. You have no basis for saying this new case is isolated. You have no proof. We want doctors of the DOH or PGH to conduct the medical checkup of all the current PNPA cadets,” said the ranking lady solon.

 

Hererra said, “the PNP and PNPA should follow the lead of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine Military Academy which ordered physical and medical examination of other PMA cadets and discovered the massive extent of hazing at PMA this year when Darwin Dormitorio died because of inhuman violence inflicted upon him.”

 

“Those medical examinations of other PMA cadets led to the discovery of even more hazing with 52 cadets in confinement and 22 new maltreatment cases. The PNP and PNPA should have every PNPA cadet undergo medical examination now,” the House Deputy Majority Leader said.

 

Rappler’s death list

 

Rappler ran a historical list of hazing deaths at the PMA, stating that “on the flipside of the PMA’s long and proud history of churning out military and police generals is a list of cadets who died as the result of hazing, or the culture of torturous loyalty that deadens upperclassmen’s hearts to the plight of plebes too eager to prove themselves worthy, or else too afraid of the price of being judged disloyal should they “squeal” on their taskmasters.

 

1978: Manuel Salas

Four days before the end of their plebe year, on February 13, 1978, the Bravo Company lay on their backs as their upperclassmen dropped shot puts – heavy metal balls – onto their bare stomachs.

One of the plebes, Cadet 4th Class Manuel Salas was killed. Another one hemorrhaged and almost died: Alan Purisima, who went on to become chief of the Philippine National Police from December 2012 to February 2015.

 

1981: Andres Ramos Jr

In November 1981, Cadet 4th Class Andres Ramos Jr.died of traumatic shock from beatings by some of his upperclassmen.

The following year, a military court sentenced a cadet to 5 years of hard labor for his participation in Ramos' hazing. Another cadet was suspended from the academy for one year, for not reporting the incident.

The victim was the son of Philippine Constabulary regional commander Brigadier General Andres Ramos, and was the batchmate of anti-drug chief Aaron Aquino, and former Philippine Army commander and now Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista in the PMA Class of 1985.

 

2000: Ace Bernabe Ekid

Cadet 4th Class Ace Bernabe Ekid was on his second try joining the academy after having taken a yearlong sick leave when he collapsed during war games at the Philippine Marines base in Ternate, Cavite, in June 2000.

A medic was able to bring Ekid back to consciousness, but the 21-year-old plebe was delirious and incoherent, the Philippine Star reported. Then moments later, he started convulsing and was rushed to a hospital where he died just over an hour later.

Although the PMA after an investigation ruled out hazing as the cause of Ekid’s death, his family and friends insisted he had been singled out for hazing by some upperclassmen because he was good-looking and from a wealthy family.

Ekid’s official cause of death was heatstroke.

 

2001: Edward Domingo and Monico de Guzman

On March 10, 2001, 23-year-old Cadet 4th Class Edward Domingo was beaten up by several 2nd Class cadets in their dormitory as an initiation rite of passage to his second year in the academy.

Domingo was reportedly hit eight times with a pipe on his buttocks and then punched many times on his abdomen until he collapsed. He then died of a “cardio-respiratory attack” at the PMA Station Hospital.

Barely a month later, on April 7, Cadet 4th Class Monico de Guzman died while being treated at the Baguio General Hospital for injuries he sustained from severe beatings he received in the academy.

In 2002, two cadets were convicted of homicide in Domingo’s death, and were sentenced to 12 years in prison.

 

2019: Darwin Dormitorio

In the last month of his life, Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio lived according to the whims of some upperclassmen in his squad. They humiliated and tortured him over petty things such as a missing pair of combat boots and for screaming “like a faggot” when they electrocuted his genitals.

The 20-year-old plebe soldiered on until his body gave way to the countless kicks and punches inflicted on him by his fellow cadets.

After he died of cardiac arrest as a result of internal bleeding on September 18, the police investigating his case said Dormitorio's time at the academy had been a “living hell.”

The case rocked the PMA. Its superintendent and commandant of cadets both resigned. So did the commanding officer and attending physician of the PMA Station Hospital, under whose watch Dormitorio had gone in and out for treatment of injuries that could only have been from hazing.

The cadets directly responsible for his death have been dismissed and are expected to face criminal charges.

 

Change

Ultimately, the change must begin from the upperclassmen – all the academy’s alumni – according to the new PMA superintendent, Rear Admiral Allan Cusi..

All PMA graduates must stop “glamorizing maltreatment,” Cusi said, as though one’s capacity to endure pain and suffering were the measure of a soldier’s worth.

Cadets must have “heart and soul” as “warriors of the motherland,” Cusi said as he took over the leadership of the academy earlier this week. Because that loyalty in their motto is not so much to one another or the academy or the uniformed service as it ought to be to the motherland.