Family of PMA hazing fatality slams DOJ’s handling of case

THE family of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction over the failure of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute all respondents in the murder and hazing complaint filed against them in connection with Dormitorio’s fatal hazing last year.

On Wednesday, the DOJ confirmed that a panel of prosecutors had recommended the indictment of three Philippine Military Academy (PMA) doctors and two cadets for Dormitorio’s death.

In a 66-page resolution, the DOJ panel of prosecutors found probable cause to file murder charges against PMA officer-doctors Lt. Col. Caesar Almer Candelaria, Captain Flor Apple Apostol, and Maj. Maria Ofelia Beloy, and two PMA Cadet Third Class Shalimar Imperial Jr. and Felix Lumbag Jr.

Imperial and Lumbag were also recommended to be prosecuted for hazing under Republic Act  11053, or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, and be given the penalty under Section 14 (a) of reclusion perpetua with a fine of P3 million.

On the other hand, Cadet Third Class Julius Carlo Tadena was recommended for prosecution under RA 11053 and be penalized under Section 14 (b), or the prison sentence of reclusion perpetua with a fine of P2 million, and was also recommended for less serious physical injuries, while Cadet Second Class Christian Zacarias was recommended that he be prosecuted for slight physical injuries.

But, the panel junked for lack of probable cause the complaints of violation of RA 11053, RA 9745, or the “Anti-Torture Act of 2009, murder, and dereliction of duty filed against Cadet First Class Axl Rey Sanopao, Cadet Third Class Rey David John Volante, Cadet Third Class John Vincent Manalo, Major Rex Bolo, and Captain Jeffrey Batistiana.

Likewise, the complaint for violation of RA 11053, RA 9745, and dereliction of duty filed against former PMA Superintendent Lieutenant General Ronnie Evangelista and former Cadet Corps commandant Brig. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro were also dismissed.

“We are relieved that after nine months, a resolution has finally been issued. We are grateful that the prosecutors concurred with our position regarding anti-hazing law being applicable in PMA,” Dexter Dormitorio said.

“However, our family is dissatisfied with the resolution because the Anti-Hazing law of 2018 was only selectively and partially applied despite overwhelming evidence supporting our cause against all respondents,” he added.

Dexter said their camp is still reviewing the resolutions and will likely consider all other legal options to get justice for his brother’s death.

“The doctors reportedly failed to properly diagnose Dormitorio’s correct illness due to their non-observance of the proper and acceptable standard of medical examinations; and that the medical examination was not comprehensive,” the prosecutors said.

The DOJ prosecutors also said that Lumbag and Imperial “intentionally and consistently beat Dormitorio,” causing internal injuries that may have caused the proximate death of Dormitorio.

“The death of Dormitorio was therefore the cumulative result of the intentional acts of two cadets and the gross negligence of the doctors…. Looking back at hindsight, the untimely demise of Dormitorio was the result of several missed opportunities and a series of mishandling of facts and decision-making,” the prosecutors said.


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