PMA admits ‘blunt force trauma’ killed cadet, vows reforms

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on Friday, September 20, vowed to conduct a "fervent and thorough" investigation after an autopsy of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio revealed that “blunt force trauma” caused the plebe’s death on Wednesday morning, September 18.

Short of expressly admitting it was hazing, PMA said in an official statement it would “file appropriate administrative charges and shall apply sanctions to all those who are found responsible” for Dormitorio’s “untimely demise.”

The country’s premiere military school admitted that “a handful of cadets may have lost their way, and their appalling acts deserve utmost criticism and condemnation.” 

Earlier on Friday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Baguio City said Dormitorio died due to injuries caused by hazing.

In a statement released on Thursday, September 19, PMA said “cardiac arrest secondary to internal hemorrhage” caused his death.

The 20-year-old plebe from Cagayan de Oro City was found unconscious inside Room 209 of Mayo Hall Annex of the PMA campus, Fort General Gregorio Del Pilar, in Baguio City at around 3:55 am. He was rushed to the PMA Station Hospital, where he was declared dead at around 5:15 am.

The Commandant of Cadets then ordered the “restrictive confinement” of Dormitorio’s upperclass and 4th Class squadmates for investigation.

There were 3 persons of interest in the case, the Baguio police reportedly said on Friday.

Despite the enactment in 2018 of a stronger anti-hazing law, the practice continues in many educational institutions, as deaths such as Dormitorio’s make evident.

PMA said it would review its character development program across all 4 classes, and that “wrong perspectives and malpractices that may have developed in some cadets will be sought and corrected.”

It would also “enhance” the monitoring and reporting system on cadets’ “overall well-being."

"It is unfortunate that a life has been lost. We pledge than no stone will be left unturned. All perpetrators will be held liable to the full extent of the law," the PMA added.

"PMA did not only lose a cadet. PMA also lost sons. One son passed away and the other sons may have lost their way," the statement said.

Dormitorio only started his cadetship last July. He would have graduated in 2023. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

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.

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