Issue of October 13, 2019
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Dormitorio hazing case: No sacred cows
by Jane B. Cadalig

LANDMARK CASE -- Dexter Dormitorio, brother of the late Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio, who is represented by lawyer Adrian Bonifacio and Baguio City Police Office Legal Officer Maj. Ford Tuazon, formally filed criminal charges against seven cadets, three doctors, and two tactical officers of the Philippine Military Academy before Asst. Prosecutor Edwin Brian Sagsago at the Baguio Prosecutor’s Office last week. -- Ofelia Empian

Hazing. Torture. Murder.

These are the charges filed against the seven Philippine Military Academy cadets tagged in the death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio.

Those sued for violations of the Anti-Hazing and Anti-Torture laws and for murder were cadets 3rd class Shalimar Imperial, Felix Lumbag, Jr., John Vincent Manalo, Julius Carlo Tadena, and Rey David John Volante; Cadet 2nd Class Christian Zacarias; and Cadet 1st Class Axl Rey Sanopao.

PMA tactical officers, Maj. Rex Bolo and Capt. Jeffrey Batistianaand PMA Station Hospital (PMASH) doctors, Col. Cesar Candelaria, Capt. Apple Apostol, and Maj. Ofelia Beloy are also facing charges in relation to Dormitorio’s death.

The Dormitorio family, represented by the late cadet’s older brother Dexter, and assisted by their counsel, Atty. Jose Adrian Bonifacio, filed the 34-page complaint on Oct. 8 before City Prosecutor Elmer Sagsago.

In the complaint, the older Dormitorio said the seven cadets have planned or participated in the hazing that led to his younger brother’s death.

The two tactical officers and the three doctors were tagged as accomplices for failing to prevent the hazing committed against Dormitorio and for failing to report the same to law enforcement authorities despite their knowledge of the crime.

“Bolo and Batistiana should be held accountable for trial as accomplices for failing to prevent the acts of hazing against my brother despite knowledge or discovery of the abuses inflicted on Aug. 19, Sept. 14, and Sept. 17. These officers bear the commensurate duty to ensure that the crimes covered by the Anti-Hazing Law are not committed yet they miserably failed in that duty,” the complaint read.

Dormitorio added the seven cadets and the two tactical officers must also be indicted for violating the Anti-Torture Law for the physical and mental torture inflicted on his brother that eventually resulted in his death.

In charging the seven cadets for torture, the complaint stated: “Punching, kicking, choking, slapping, electrocuting, blindfolding, stamping, hanging, (tying the victim), humiliating, (imposing) unauthorized and excessive punishments, and ordering the victim to do menial and other unnecessary acts demonstrate their cruel and patent disregard to Dormitorio’s dignity and well-being as a human being.”

“Bolo and Batistiana can be held liable for their omission and negligence for not taking preventive and or corrective action before, during, or immediately after the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of punishment when they have the authority to do the same.”

The complaint stated the three PMASH doctors should be indicted as accessories to the crime as they actually committed and tolerated various acts of torture against the late cadet.

“As persons in authority, Candelaria, Apostol, and Beloy can be held liable as accessory to the offense for not noting the injuries of Dormitorio in the preparation of a medical certificate on three occasions,” it added.

Dormitorio also charged the seven cadets for murder, saying the killing of his younger brother “was attended by abuse of superior strength, evident premeditation, and with cruelty by deliberately and inhumanely augmenting the suffering of the victim.”

Tactical officers Bolo and Batistiana and doctors Candelaria, Apostol, and Beloy were also charged for dereliction of duty for tolerating the crimes committed against the late Dormitorio by failing to report the same to authorities and for not conducting further investigation and assessment of the worsening condition of the victim.

“Bolo and Batistiana miserably failed to take remedial and punitive sanctions, like moving for the suspension or dismissal from service against Imperial, Lumbag, and Manalo after determining that they maltreated Dormitorio on Aug. 19 that led to his hospitalization for eight days.”

“Apostol, Beloy, and Candelaria failed to report to proper authorities the maltreatment of Dormitorio despite obvious signs of maltreatment, hazing, torture when he was brought three times to the PMASH. Instead, they sent (him) back to the barracks with findings only of urinary tract infection,” stated the complaint.

Dormitorio died on Sept. 18 of severe blunt traumatic injuries in the abdomen.

The autopsy conducted by the Police Regional Office-Cordillera Crime Laboratory and National Bureau of Investigation showed that the cadet suffered from contusions in his chest, had ruptured pancreas, had swollen kidneys, and ruptured intestinal blood vessels, among other injuries.

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