NBI Cordillera files charges vs ex-PMA officials

BAGUIO CITY —The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) – Cordillera filed a separate complaint at the city prosecutor’s office against two former Philippine Military Academy (PMA) officials for failing to conduct any investigation or action to prevent the “maltreatment” of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio, who died from hazing-related injuries last month inside the country’s premier military school.

The two officers charged are Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista and ex Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro.

The NBI-Cordillera launched its own separate investigation on September 23 after Justice secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered for a parallel probe on the hazing death.

The Anti-Hazing law (Republic Act 11053) was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 29 this year. It prohibits all forms of hazing and imposes harsher penalties on hazing death, amending the 23-year old RA 8059 that merely regulated the action. There was only one conviction since RA 8059 was passed.

Under RA 11053, the definition of hazing was expanded to include “physical or psychological suffering, harm or injury inflicted on a recruit, neophyte, applicant or member as part of an initiation rite or a requirement for continuing membership in a fraternity or sorority or organization.”

It covers acts ranging from paddling to whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substance or any brutal treatment or forced physical activity likely to adversely affect the physical and psychological health of such recruit.

It bans all forms of hazing in fraternities, sororities and organizations in schools, communities and even businesses and uniformed service-learning institutions.

RA 11053 provides stiffer penalties and those who planned or participated in the hazing which results in death, rape, sodomy or mutilation will be slapped with a penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of P3 million.

Unlike the old law, the new law also penalizes individuals who will try to cover up hazing activities. It also mandates schools to “take more proactive steps to protect its students from the dangers of participating in activities that involve hazing.”

NBI Cordillera regional director Hector Eduardo Geologo said, “we deem it proper and justified by the fact that the instances of torture and hazing had been extensive and ongoing since then and were all properly and officially reported as per standard operation of the academy, but these officers neither lifted a hand nor exerted efforts for these to be investigated and implement appropriate actions if warranted so as to prevent the propagation thereof.”

Evangelista and Bacarro stepped down from their posts after Dormitorio’s death.

Assisting physician Major Maria Ofelia Beloy, attending physician Captain Florence Apple Apostol, who certified that Dormitorio died of cardiac arrest secondary to internal hemorrhage and former PMA hospital Commander Col. Cesar Candelaria were all recommended by the NBI-Cordillera to be charged with medical malpractice.

Lawyer Jose Adrian Bonifacio, who is legally assisting the Dormitorio family said, his clients are supporting the NBI cases versus Evangelista and Bacarro and the three former PMA medical officers.

Hazing, torture and murder raps were earlier filed by the Dormitorios versus 1st Class Cadet Axl Rey Sanupao, 2nd Class Cadet Christian Zacarias, and 3rd Class Cadets Rey David John Volante, Julius Carlo Tadena, John Vincent Manalo, Felix Lumbag Jr. and Shalimar Imperial.

The Dormitorios also charged Senior Tactical Officer Major Rex Bolo and Echo Company Tactical Officer Captain Jeffrey Batistiana as accomplices in the anti-hazing law violation.

They also sued Beloy, Apostol and Candelaria with dereliction of duty under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. â—Ź