PMA hazing: Two cadets get 12 years
- Artemio Dumlao () - November 20, 2002 - 12:00am
BAGUIO CITY - Two former cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after being found guilty of killing another cadet through hazing last year.

In an 18-page decision, Baguio City Regional Trial Court Judge Ruben Ayson of Branch 6 also ordered John Louie Ong and Michael Perang to pay P356,648 as indemnity to the family of the victim, 4th class cadet Edward de la Cruz Domingo.

But Ayson lowered the sentence to homicide from murder, saying there was no evident premeditation.

Both Ong and Perang had admitted beating up Domingo on March 10, 2001, in initiation rites for the victim’s entry to the level of PMA upperclassman.

PMA officials hailed the decision as a milestone in their struggle to eradicate the violent rituals.

PMA information officer Maj. Edgard Arevalo said the conviction marks the first time that cadets of the country’s premier military school were sentenced by a civilian court.

"As per record, this is the first ever conviction of former cadets before a regular court on a case involving maltreatment. This only goes to show that PMA and its authorities are very serious and keen in eliminating this kind of practice in the Academy," he said.

Arevalo admitted hazing has been a stigma in the PMA. "By filing cases against them, we’re sending a signal that maltreatment will not be tolerated and that cadets are not under different regulations (since) they are also bound to follow or comply with the laws of the land," he said.

Court records showed Domingo, then a fourth class plebe, was beaten up after being called by Ong and Perang and two other second-class cadets inside their quarters.

It was later proven that Domingo was subjected to a beating "in accordance with the yearling tradition" of whipping and punching for passing his academics and being promoted as a second year cadet.

The court said Perang was the first to beat up Domingo with a pipe eight times in the buttocks while ordering the victim the spell out word "yearling."

Ong took his turn by punching the victim several times in the abdomen, also ordering the latter to spell out the word.

Domingo then fell unconscious on the floor and was later pronounced dead on arrival at the PMA hospital.

The court dismissed the defense made by the accused in claiming hazing was a tradition in the academy.

"The accused themselves admitted that the (hazing) tradition was underground activity not authorized by the academy. They knew, therefore, that they were engaged in an unauthorized activity but despite this, they were willing to take the risk," the court said.

Their lawyers, Noe Villanueva and Jose Molintas, said they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court within 15 days.

Domingo’s mother, Leonida, said she was glad that the court finally gave justice to the death of her son.

The academy, founded in 1898, has been criticized for not taking any action to stop hazing, which was often done secretly.

In the past, PMA has either filed administrative cases or dismissed cadets involved in the rituals.

This time, the PMA hierarchy took a step in the right direction by filing criminal complaints against Ong and Perang. "This (hazing) has long been a black mark. Some think discipline and obedience could be instilled by fear. We do not subscribe to that anymore," Arevalo said. With Aurora Alambra

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