Philippine Military Academy head quits

September 24, 2019

PHILIPPINE Military Academy (PMA) Superintendent Lt. General Ronnie Evangelista and PMA Commandant Brig. General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro yesterday resigned due to command responsibility in connection with the hazing death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio on September 18.

Meanwhile cadets and officials who will be charged for their involvement in the maltreatment of the victim were identified.

In a statement issued by Evangelista, he stressed that it is very wrong for a cadet to die inside the PMA ground, particularly in the manner Dormitorio died in the hands of  his fellow cadets. It is about time for him as Superintendent of the academy to resign under the military tradition of command responsibility, Evangelista said.

“In the military tradition of command responsibility, it is now the proper time for me, as the head of this institution, together with the commandant of the Corps of Cadets to relinquish our respective positions,” Evangelista said.

He said no one asked him to resign or pressured him to make his decision.

For his part, BGen Bacarro said he volunteered to resign also by virtue of command responsibility.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Marine Brig.General Edgard  Arevalo  said the resignation of Evangelista and Bacarro were already received by AFP Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal.

Meanwhile Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana  commended the decision of Evangelista and Bacarro saying the two officials  showed  the hallmark of true leadership as espoused by the military profession and principle of command responsibility.

“The DND commends the decision of LtGen Ronnie Evangelista and BGen Bartolome Vicente Bacarro to resign from their respective positions as Superintendent and Commandant of Cadets of the Philippine Military Academy in light of recent events involving the institution,” Lorenzana said.    

At the same time the Academy disclosed the names of cadets and officials who were involved in the sudden death of Dormitorio.

Cadets Third Class Shalimar Imperial and Felix Lambag and Cadet 1st Class  Axl Ray Sanupco will be facing dismissal from the academy due to their direct participation in the hazing or maltreatment of Cadet Dormitorio.

Cadet 2nd Class Nickoel Termil will also receive punishment due to command responsibility being the squad leader.

Cadet 1st Class Irvin Sayud, platoon leader;  cadet 1st Class  Elbert Lucas  (CO),  cadet 1st  Class Christian Correa, floor inspector,  officer of Tactics Group. Major Rex Bolo (senior tactical officer), Captain Jeffrey Batistiana (tactical officer), and hospital official Colonel Cesar Candelaria (commanding  officer) will face suspension.

Relieved from as commander of PMA Station Hospital was Capt. Flor Apostol, who was the attending physician who checked Dormitorio before the latter died.

Nine cadets were being considered as witnesses.

Resignation welcomed

Malacañang welcomed the resignation of Evangelista as Philippine Military Academy (PMA) superintendent.

“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. Evangista,” said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Panelo earlier called on Evangelista to resign, saying a PMA superintendent had “no business staying” in his post if he did not know what was happening in the premier military institution.

“Investigation is currently ongoing. The Office of the President guarantees that there will be no whitewash and expects that justice will be rendered for those responsible for the PMA plebe’s fatal death,” Panelo said.

The cadet, Darwin Dormitorio, died on September 18 after complaining of stomach pain. The PMA confirmed days later that he died from hazing. His body reportedly bore bruises.

No cover-up

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año on Monday vowed no cover-up in the ongoing investigation into the death of Dormitorio.

“I gave instructions to the Philippine National Police Cordillera that no cover-up and that everybody who is liable, criminally and administratively, should be charged and given appropriate disciplinary action,” Año told a press conference at Camp Crame.

“I believe walang magiging cover-up o whitewash diyan. ‘Yung kadete, they are now reviewing the system paano i-empower ‘yung mga fourth year... sila dapat nagbabantay diyan ng hazing,” he added.

Philippine National Police chief, General Oscar D. Albayalde said that he was told by Cordillera police regional office director, Brigadier General Israel Ephraim T. Dickson that criminal charges would be filed against the suspects today.

At least three upperclassmen of Dormitorio have been sent to the PMA stockade as a result of the incident and would be facing criminal charges and dismissal from the Academy.

With Efren Montano and Alfred Dalizon