MANILA, Philippines – Following the death of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio on September 18, two more plebes are recuperating from injuries sustained from apparent hazing, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday, September 23.
The injured cadets are confined at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Medical Center in Quezon City, Lorenzana told reporters on the sidelines of the blessing of new assets of the Philippine Navy in its Headquarters in Manila.
"Malamang hazing din kasi abdomen eh,” Lorenzana said, describing the cadets' injuries. (Probably from hazing, too, because it's the abdomen [that's hit].)
The victims are classmates of Dormitorio, 20, who died of hemorrhage caused by "blunt force trauma" – or hazing – according to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and PMA itself.
Visiting the PMA campus, Fort General Gregorio del Pilar, in Baguio City on Saturday, September 21, Lorenzana said he ordered the academy superintendent, Lieutenant General Ronnie Evangelista, to have all plebes examined for bruises or any indication that they may have been subjected to hazing.
The defense chief said he addressed all cadets, “Plebes and upperclassmen, I reminded them that anybody who does not report, or has knowledge of that maltreatment and looks away, they are as guilty as those who are perpetrators."
Lorenzana is a member of the PMA class of 1973.
He said he deplores the practice of hazing, and that he never went through anything of the sort when he was a plebe, nor did he subject his juniors when he was a yearling – cadets on their 2nd year of training, whom the defense chief said are now the usual suspects.
Although hazing is illegal, the practice persists in many higher educational institutions. "Maybe there are some people who are inherently sadist, na gusto nilang magpahirap ng ibang tao (who like making people suffer). For some reason, nakakalusot sa (they make it past the) screening,” Lorenzana said.
There are many decent ways of teaching cadets to be tough, he added, without resorting to brutality.
"You can make them do push-ups, or squat-thrusts, or running around the parade grounds. 'Yun ang pagmo-mold mo nang pisikal, hindi 'yung kuryentehin mo, paluin mo sa talampakan (That’s how you mold them physically, not electrocuting them, hitting the soles of their feet)."
"O kaya dinudukot sila nang hatinggabi para hindi makatukog (or else they’re picked up in the middle of the night to rob them of sleep), and then they're being deprived of their food. That's hazing,” Lorenzana added.
He said he would visit the two recuperating cadets after the Navy event. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.