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2 PMA cadets, 3 doctors indicted for murder in 2019 death of Dormitorio

By: Tetch Torres-Tupas, Vincent Cabreza - Philippine Daily Inquirer - Inquirer.net | June 25,2020 - 09:37 AM

MANILA, Philippines — The Baguio City Prosecutors Office has found a basis to file criminal charges against Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets involved in the 2019 death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio.

In a 66-page resolution dated June 5, a three-man panel of prosecutors recommended that PMA 3rd Class Cadets Shalimar Imperial and Felix Lumbag Jr. be charged with murder for Dormitorio’s hazing death on Sept. 18 last year.

The prosecutors also recommended that Imperial and Lumbag be charged for violating Section 14 (a) of the Republic Act 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Law, as they allegedly planned and participated in Dormitorio’s hazing that eventually killed him.

Also recommended charged with murder are Capt. Flor Apple Apostol, Maj. Ofelia Beloy, and Lt. Colonel Ceasar Candelaria from the PMA Station Hospital (PMASH), according to the resolution approved by Baguio Prosecutor Elmer Sagsago.

“The indispensable participation by the PMASH doctors is reckless imprudence – the spirit behind the result, which is the death, and the resulting death only operates to determine the penalty imposed on them,” the resolution states.

Dormitorio’s death “was not the result of a single criminal act, nor was it the product of two criminal acts, where one was necessary to commit the other,” the panel likewise asserts.

Meanwhile, the panel of prosecutors ruled that the other five PMA cadets who allegedly participated in Dormitorio’s maltreatment under a disavowed tradition called “katay,” or punishment for small infractions, committed offenses that were not part of the main complaints.

Thus, PMA cadet Julius Tadena was recommended to be prosecuted for violation of Section 14 (b) of the Anti-Hazing Law and serious physical injuries, while 2nd Class Cadet Christian Zacarias is recommended charged for slight physical injuries.

“The nature of the relationship between a plebe and his upperclassman plays a crucially important role. A plebe, whenever called by an upperclassman is under strict obligation to comply with an order; he is in no position to question his upperclassman. Thus when the plebe is subjected to a katay he is already in a position (where) he (could not) defend himself… much less question the propriety of the katay done to him,” the panel says.

On the other hand, prosecutors dismissed the complaints filed against 1st Class Cadet Rey Sanopao, 3rd Class Cadet Rey David John Volante, 3rd Class Cadet John Vincent Manalo, Maj. Rex Bolo and Capt. Jeffrey Batistiana for lack of probable cause.

The prosecutors likewise dismissed the charges against then PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista and Brig. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro. Both Evangelista and Bacarro tendered their resignation last year at the conclusion of their own investigation into Dormitorio’s death which found the upperclassmen liable for the crime.

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