MANILA - Members of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education on Tuesday watched two videos of alleged hazing incidents at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) as part of a congressional investigation on the death of one of its cadets.
The short video clips were presented by Jelou Bondoc, brother of the late PMMA cadet Jonash Bondoc whose death is being investigated by the committee. Bondoc’s presentation was facilitated by Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Lawrence Fortun, who sought the probe on the cadet's death.
One video clip showed a male person hitting the outstretched hands of another one with a wooden paddle. A second video showed another male person physically assaulting another one. Their faces were blurred.
Bondoc’s brothers Joshua and Jelou also took turns sharing screenshots of conversations with Jonash and with other persons inside PMMA.
As seen in the screenshots, Jonash told his brother that hazing and assault are a “normal” part of PMMA life. The hazing allegedly included sleep deprivation and physical assault of younger cadets by senior cadets.
Upon Fortun’s suggestion and eventual motion, an executive session will be set so that lawmakers can watch the version of the video clearly showing the faces of the male persons. No date of the executive session has been announced.
The videos were shared with the Bondoc family by unnamed sources to help in the investigation of Jonash's death.
The lawmakers were also shown screenshots of Jonash’s conversations with his friends where he supposedly detailed the alleged sadistic tendencies of their upper classmen, who would physically assault them or deprive them of food.
PMMA cadets and officials joined the hearing via video conferencing from the PMMA campus in San Narciso, Zambales.
“The family of Jonash Bondoc is in possession of messages and videos sent to them by well meaning individuals which may be of particular interest to this committee. They also have messages from Jonash which he shared to his friends of his ordeals inside the PMMA,” Fortun said in his opening statement.
Fortun wants the evidence, with some pieces that are sensitive in nature but material to the investigation, be shown to the Committee in an executive session.
"For purposes of full disclosure, let the records reflect that a case of homicide has been filed against Midshipman Cadet 2nd class Jomel Gloria who confessed to having punched Jonash Bondoc as part of their tradition and act of “lambing” before Jonash would go back home to Butuan City for a break,” Fortun said.
In House Resolution 1953, Fortun recalled that at 6:30 a.m. last July 6, Jonash was found unconscious in a restroom in the Alpha Company Barracks of the PMMA and was later pronounced dead at the San Marcelino District Hospital where he was brought.
“The death of Cadet 4th Class Bondoc was attended by suspicious circumstances requiring an in-depth and exhaustive investigation that should cover not only the crime itself but also the environment and systems that may have countenanced certain practices and traditions that led to its commission.” HR 1953 read.
“While a purported lone culprit, Cadet 3rd Class Jomel Gloria, has been identified, arrested and charged, his incomplete and selective admission has turned out to be inconsistent with the autopsy report released by the Zambales City Crime Laboratory," it added.
According to the resolution, the PMMA is the pioneer and premier merchant marine academy in the Philippines funded and operated by the Philippine government and whose graduates are commissioned as ensigns in the Philippine Navy Reserve. They also have the option to join the merchant marine, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard.