Executives of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) resigned from their posts on Tuesday following the hazing death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio last week.
PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista and the commandant of cadets Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro quit after the investigation into the death of the 20-year-old cadet was completed.
Their resignations were meant to “save the organization” and not signify admission of their shortcomings, Evangelista told reporters via phone call.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) outgoing chief of staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. welcomed their decision.
On September 18, Dormitorio was admitted to the hospital thrice prior his death from the hazing injuries.
Evangelista said in a statement on Tuesday that it was not for an individual to die in this manner in the PMA.
“It was wrong for a cadet to die in the hands of fellow cadets. Maltreatment is wrong in [the] PMA,” he said.
The country’s leading military school prohibited hazing in 1997. The most notable hazing case in PMA ended in 2001 after two cadets were convicted.
According to Evangelista, the investigation of Dormitorio’s case was already wrapped up.
“All the reports for administrative and criminal cases are now finished and prosecution procedures [have] commenced. The last act that this great military institution demands is for the leaders to take responsibility [for] what happened,” he said.
“In the military tradition of command responsibility, it is now the proper time for me as the head of the institution, together with the commandant of cadets, to relinquish our respective positions,” the PMA superintendent said, clarifying that it was solely his decision to tender his resignation.
Panelo commends Evangelista’s ‘genuine delicadeza’
After the Palace accepted Evangelista’s resignation, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo praised him for doing the “right step” and for his “genuine delicadeza.”
“We welcome this development as a right step towards upholding the integrity of the PMA as the country’s premier military institution and recognize the same as a form of genuine delicadeza on the part of Lt. Gen. Evangelista,” he said in a statement.
Panelo on Monday said that Evangelista should quit his post, noting that the latter had “no business staying” if he did not know what was happening in the PMA.
Meanwhile, Cagayan Rep. Rufus Rogriguez, who also called Evangelista to resign, said on Tuesday that it was “the right thing for him to do.”
He added that the President and the military now have to consider someone to take over the vacated post.
On the other hand, ex-chief of the Philippine National Police and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa commented, “Another good officer wasted, his career, because of that incident.”
Dela Rosa explained that he knew Evangelista and that the general had taken actions to eradicate hazing from the premier military school.
Suspension and no graduation for Dormitorio’s leaders
The PMA has ordered suspension for Dormitorio’s platoon leader, Cadet 1st Class Christian Correa, and company leader, Cadet 1st Class Elbert Lucas. Also, they will not be allowed to graduate next year.
Meanwhile, Cadet 1st Class Irvin Sayud, Dormitorio’s headquarter floor inspector, was also punished and would be confined for over 100 days.
According to Bacarro, the following had also been relieved: Maj. Rex Bolo and Capt. Jeffrey Batistiana, Dormitorio’s tactical officers; Capt. Cesar Candelaria, PMA Station Hospital commander, and Capt. Flor Apostol, doctor from the hospital.
In the meantime, the PMA had not kept details of the incident since they were still in preparation of the cases that would be filed against the upperclassmen.
On Tuesday afternoon, the statements of nine cadets who witnessed the hazing were submitted to the city prosecutor, as per chief of the Baguio City Police Office, Col. Allan Rae Co.