October 2, 2023

Today, May 21, the 311 members of the Philippine Military Academy Mandirigmang may dangal, simbolo ng galing at pagbangon (Madasigon) Class of 2023 will graduate.

One of them would have been the plebe Darwin Dormitorio, who died on Sept. 18, 2019 due to injuries allegedly inflicted by his upperclassmen.

Four years after, lawyer Jose Adrian Bonifacio, counsel for the Dormitorio family, said a decision on the cases of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, less physical injuries, and slight physical injuries against then Cadet Second Class Christian Zacarias and then Cadet Third Class Julius Carlos Tadena, PMA officials Cpt. Flor Apple Apostol, Maj. Ofelia Beloy, and Lt/Col. Caesar Candelaria pending at the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 1 will be issued by August.

For the murder case against then Cadets Third Class Felix Lumbag, Jr. and Shalimar Imperial, Jr. and violation of the Anti-Hazing Law against Tadena pending before the Regional Trial Court Baguio Branch 5, Bonifacio said the prosecution has concluded presenting its 30 witnesses, and the defense is currently presenting its own witnesses.

He said the case might conclude by the end of the year, but is still unsure of when a decision will be handed down.

Apostol, Beloy, and Candelaria are out on bail and are still employed with the PMA, while the former cadets are still under the military custody.

The Dormitorio family recently celebrated Darwin’s birth anniversary on May 6. He would have been 24.

Meanwhile, Dormitorio’s classmates have been including him in their procurement of memorabilia such as class bull ring, class saber, pendant, and other mementos from the institution.

Cadet First Class Edmundo Logronio, the second highest rank in the Madasigon Class of 2023, said their class president have been communicating with Dormitorio’s parents in Cagayan de Oro prior to their plan of giving memorabilia to the late cadet’s family.

Logronio said the memorabilia which are now with their class president will be delivered after graduation.

None from the Dormitorio family would be able to attend the graduation.

Dormitorio’s case shed light to the practice of hazing inside PMA.

B/Gen Julius Tomines, commandant of cadets and head of the PMA’s Tactics Group, said to minimize maltreatment, there have been directives and policies which they strictly implement.

He said there are corrective training policies in which cadets address directly the failures in performance of underclass cadets instead of quick punishment, which often leads to maltreatment.

“We have increased the visibility of everybody so that there will be no opportunities for the upper class to maltreat the lowerclass cadets,” Tomines said adding they have increased CCTV surveillance cameras in the barracks to monitor the cadets.

PMA has also intensified leadership education among the cadets especially inculcating values, like respect. – Rimaliza A. Opiña and Ofelia C. Empian