MANILA - Hazing has long been a “form of discipline” in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) but cadets should already shun this practice and start to “innovate,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Monday, following the death last week of one of its cadets.
Lacson, a former police chief and an alumnus of the PMA, said cadets these days should learn that employing “physical contact” in instilling discipline on their underclassmen is no longer an acceptable practice.
“Hazing is part of a disciplinary mechanism, but times have changed and the cadets should be able to innovate. They [should] go with the flow na hindi na pwede ang hazing and they should avoid physical contact,” Lacson told reporters.
Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio, 20, died Wednesday after complaining of stomach pain. He was confined at the hospital twice in the previous month and had bruises on his stomach consistent with hazing.
Authorities have identified 3 suspects in his death.
Lacson said the people responsible for Dormitorio’s death could be sentenced to life imprisonment under the revised anti-hazing law.
“While it is tragic that 4th Class Cadet Dormitorio is now dead because of hazing, I still cannot feel but pity those who are involved in the hazing of Dormitorio simply because hindi na lang administrative ang sanctions na haharapin nila, they face a potential imprisonment of 40 years,” he said.
The PMA "is ready to file appropriate charges, administrative and criminal charges to those who are involved," its spokesperson Maj. Ray Afan said Sunday.
Malacañang also condoled with the family of Dormitorio, and lamented a failure in PMA leadership in preventing the incident.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the head of the PMA, Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, should resign over the incident.
"If I were the superintendent and I will not know what is happening in the academy, then I have no business staying in my position," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told ANC.
"How come there is still hazing there? When you are the boss, then you should be telling your underlings, I will not allow it. I'll fire all of you, I'll put you to jail. If you are a weak boss, then this will happen," he said.
Hazing incidents and frat-related violence have been plaguing the country’s premier military training institution and other law schools, some of which resulted in deaths.
President Rodrigo Duterte last year signed a stronger anti-hazing law, in response to the hazing death of University of Santo Tomas law freshman Horacio Castillo III.