MANILA - Hazing exists in the Philippine Military Academy, a lawmaker confirmed Friday, but denied it is a tradition or a rite of passage for plebes.
"Hazing exists, but I won't say it's culture within the academy. Because when we say culture, it's a way of life. Hindi rin ito pwedeng sabihing tradition. When we say tradition it is something symbolic that you have to pass on from generations to generations," Magdalo Rep. Manuel Cabochan said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
Cabochan, who graduated from the PMA in 1995 before joining the Navy, said hazing is practiced in the academy because of the belief that it will instill disciple and to toughen up plebes.
"Hindi 'yun tino-tolerate sa academy. An offense is still a crime and lahat ng liable in committing that offense ay dapat managot," he said.
Hazing, he explained, inflicts bodily harm that endangers the mental, physical and academic health of the plebe.
He said he also underwent hazing and later on conducted hazing on plebes at the PMA.
"When I became an upperclass, may nagawa din ako. I punished a plebe, inflicted bodily harm," he said.
"May guilt akong nararamdaman dahil hindi ko naman nature 'yung manakit. Dahil nga spur of the moment, naisip ko gawin ito, nagawa ko," he said.
He said that they do not think that going through or surviving hazing is a badge of honor.
"Hindi 'yun rite of passage na kailangang pagdaanan ng bawat papasok doon sa academy. Mali siya," he said.
He believes that more needs to be done to break the practice of hazing in the country's premier military school.
"We have to find ways na more strenuous exercises and all other trainings sa academy more rigid siguro. We have to find ways na 'yung physical contact will be limited. We have to have guidelines and we have to control the environment para magawa mo 'yun," he said.
Cadets, he said, should undergo regular lectures or discussions about hazing as a criminal offense.
"Isa pa d'yan, mandatory dapat 'yung counseling, every year so hindi lang 'yung plebe na magiging upperclass mag undergo ng counseling," he said.
The PMA leadership has come under fire after the death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio due to hazing.
The freshman cadet died last week after complaining of stomach pain. He was hospitalized twice in the previous month and had bruises on his stomach consistent with hazing.
Police continue to investigate the case and will soon file case against those with direct participation in Dormitorio's hazing.
The incident forced the head of the PMA to relinquish his post. The commandant of cadets also stepped down.