Duterte outraged by death of PMA cadet: Palace

MANILA President Rodrigo Duterte is outraged by the death of 20-year-old Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet Darwin Dormitorio due to alleged hazing, MalacaAang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President is confident that authorities will prosecute those involved in what he described as an oppressive act.

Siyempre galit siya sa nangyayari (Of course he's angry about what happened). Alam mo si Presidente, (You know the President), he's one man who is always outraged by any kind of oppression; and hazing is an oppressive act, kasi sinasaktan mo (because you hurt someone) intentionally. Murder nga ang dating eh kapag namatay. Siyempre ayaw niya iyon (It could even be classified as murder if someone dies. Of course, he doesn't want that), Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

We are confident that our authorities would implement this new law as they leave no stone unturned in the ongoing investigation on Mr. Dormitorio's untimely demise, he added.

Panelo said there would be no need for the President to issue any directives to the PMA since authorities already know how to handle such incidents.

In a statement, the Palace official hailed the PMA for helping Baguio police identify upperclassmen as persons of interest or suspects and are now investigating the incident in coordination with government authorities

However, he also lamented that there is a failure in leadership as regards to being negligent in not stopping this murderous ritual which has no place in a civilized society.

Panelo also expressed condolences to Dormitorio's bereaved family, friends, classmates, and loved ones.

Last year, Duterte even signed into law the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 (Republic Act No. 11053) to ensure that all practices of hazing are checked and all practitioners thereof are penalized.

On Sunday, the PNP said it was already considering as suspects the three third-class cadets who were earlier identified as persons of interest in the death of Dormitorio due to blunt force trauma last Sept. 16.

Panelo backs Rodriguez

Panelo, meanwhile, backed the call of Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez for PMA Superintendent Lt. General Ronnie Evangelista to step down and be held accountable but clarified that it is only his personal opinion.

If results of congressional investigation show that indeed there has been negligence on the part of the superiors, Panelo said they should be prosecuted administratively.

I think the superiors in that Academy should be held accountable, from the top to the bottom who are supposed to know what is happening in their Academy. If they cannot stop the hazing, then they have no business staying in their positions. They should be charged administratively, if not criminally, Panelo said in an interview over ANC.

How come there is still hazing there, I cannot even understand that. When you are the boss, then you should be telling your underlings, 'I will not allow it. I'll fire all of you or I'll put you to jail.' But if you are not if you're a weak boss, then this will happen, he added.

He said he would personally ask Congress to consider amending the existing law to make PMA heads and school authorities criminally accountable for allowing hazing to happen within academic institutions.

That is precisely why personally I'm suggesting that there must be a law that will make the heads, like the PMA, accountable criminally, Panelo said.

Kapag ginawa mong criminally subject sila sa prosecution, I don't think magkakaroon pa ng hazing. Kahit sa mga fraternities, gawin mo iyong pinaka-head, papakulong mo (If you make them criminally accountable, they will be subject to prosecution. I don't think there will be hazing anymore. Even in fraternities, if you get the head jailed), he added.

Panelo, who also experienced hazing and other forms of corporal punishment when he was a law student, said he also supported Rodriguez's proposal to classify hazing as a heinous crime.

Gawin mo ngang heinous crime iyan at responsible iyong heads and all members, tigil iyan (If you classify hazing as a heinous and make heads and all members, hazing will stop), Panelo said.

One life lost is too many

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar also condemned the hazing death of Dormitorio, who hails from Cagayan de Oro.

As the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) of Region 10, I am personally outraged that Cagayan de Oro lost one of its promising sons, Andanar said.

Andanar also expressed sympathies to his family, friends, classmates, and expected those involved in the hazing to be held accountable.

One life lost is one too many. Let this tragic incident be the last case of shattered dream. Let us put a stop to all forms of hazing, Andanar said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency