Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista is stepping down as head of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in the wake of the hazing death of freshman cadet Darwin Dormitorio.
Evangelista made the announcement at a press conference this morning in Baguio, saying that Brig. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, the commandant of the academy’s Corps of Cadets, will be leaving with him.
“In the military tradition of command responsibility, it is now the proper time for me, as the head of this institution, together with the commandant of the Corps of Cadets to relinquish our respective positions,” Evangelista said.
“I did not leave my post in the midst of crisis. I faced the problems squarely and we have finished the investigation. As I resign from my post, it is now up to the proper authority to decide on the finality of the case. That for me is the definition of command responsibility,” he added.
Defense Secretary Lorenzana revealed yesterday that two more freshman cadets were taken to the hospital under suspicion of hazing-related injuries. The injuries, he said, were “probably from hazing, too, because it’s the abdomen [that was hit],” reported Rappler.
The military’s spokesman, Edgard Arevalo, told radio station DZMM, however, that the two cadets are “in a stable condition” and are on the way to recovery.
Arevalo also said in the interview that PMA freshman cadets have undergone medical check-ups to see if they have bruises and wounds. He said this was all part of the PMA’s “widespread efforts” to stop hazing in the academy.
Arevalo added that two unnamed PMA officials — both of whom were tactical officers — have also been fired.
“They were relieved because it’s part of their job to ensure that these things don’t happen,” he said.
Yesterday, the National Bureau of Investigation was ordered by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to probe the circumstances surrounding Dormitorio’s death.