Foul play ruled out in military academy cadet’s drowning

The Philippine Military Academy honored the late cadet Mario Telan Jr., who died of drowning in his swimming class. <i>Photo: PMA</i>
The Philippine Military Academy honored the late cadet Mario Telan Jr., who died of drowning in his swimming class. Photo: PMA

Baguio City Police yesterday ruled out the possibility that foul play was involved in the drowning of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet Mario Telan Jr., who was found dead in the school’s pool shortly after his swimming class on Friday.

However, Col. Allen Rae Co, the city’s police director, said that the two swimming instructors who were in charge of Telan’s class could still be held liable. Co told The Philippine Daily Inquirer that they may have failed to “institute the necessary safety measures or protocols during the class.”

The PMA’s information officer, Captain Cheryl Tindog, also insisted there was no foul play based on the CCTV footage from the swimming pool area. She said that based on the footage, Telan jumped into the 15-foot-deep pool while his classmates were busy undergoing an examination, SunStar Baguio reported.

In a separate interview with radio station DZMM, Tindog said that another cadet, who was assigned to monitor his classmates’ whereabouts, failed to look for Telan. His classmates didn’t notice him missing until lunchtime when they found his body underwater.

Tindog added that the school’s superintendent, Vice Admiral Allan Cusi, has ordered the postponement of all swimming classes.

“There were irregularities that we saw, that if [they] were avoided, this event could have been prevented,” Tindog said.

ABS-CBN News reported that Telan’s body had already been sent to his hometown of Enrile, in Cagayan province, on Sunday. Despite the PMA and the police’s announcements that the death was purely an accident, his family has expressed doubts and asked for a thorough investigation.

Telan died almost two months after another PMA cadet, Darwin Dormitorio, passed away allegedly due to hazing. Dormitorio’s family has pressed charges against his schoolmates, who were allegedly responsible for his death, as well as PMA officers who have been accused of dereliction of duty. Dormitorio’s death has prompted several groups to stage protests, and forced the resignation of two top academy officials, Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, the PMA chief, and Bartolome Bacarro, the school’s commandant of cadets.

The PMA was also embroiled in another controversy when two videos went viral late last month appearing to show several cadets physically assaulting their classmates in the school’s dorms.


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