Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the hazing incident in the academy, which resulted in the death of cadet Darwin Dormitorio, reflected weak leadership.
Facebook screengrab/Presidential Communications, File
Panelo says PMA officials should resign if they can't stop hazing
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - September 23, 2019 - 6:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — Officials of the Philippine Military Academy should not remain in their posts if they could not stop hazing, a spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the hazing incident in the academy, which resulted in the death of cadet Darwin Dormitorio, reflected weak leadership.

"I think the superiors in that academy should be held accountable, from the top to the bottom who are supposed to know what is happening in their academy. If they cannot stop the hazing, then they have no business staying in their positions. They should be charged administratively, if not criminally," Panelo said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

READ: AFP: 2 more PMA cadets in hospital due to ‘maltreatment’

Asked to react to calls for PMA Superintendent Maj. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista to resign, Panelo replied: "He should, he should if... you know, if I were the superintendent, and I would not know what is happening in my academy, then I have no business staying in my position. How come there is stilling hazing there, I cannot even understand that."

"When you are the boss, then you should be telling your underlings, ‘I will not allow it. I’ll fire all of you or I’ll put you to jail.’ But if you are...a weak boss, then this will happen," he added.

READ: PMA cadet a victim of hazing – PNP

Panelo later on clarified that he was just expressing his personal view on the issue.

In a statement, Panelo said the Palace was "deeply saddened and outraged" over the death of Dormitorio and expressed condolences to the bereaved family, friends and classmates of the late cadet.

"The Office of the President condemns the barbaric practice of hazing in all its forms," the presidential spokesman said.

"While we commend the PMA for participating with the Baguio police in identifying the upperclassmen as persons of interest or suspects and investigating the incident with its coordination with government authorities, we at the same time lament that there is a failure in leadership as regards being negligent in not stopping this murderous ritual which has no place in a civilized society," he added.

READ: House to probe death of PMA cadet

Panelo expressed confidence that authorities would implement the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018 as they investigate Dormitorio's untimely death. He said Duterte was outraged by the hazing incident because he does not condone any kind of oppression.

"We will prosecute those people behind (the hazing)," Panelo said.

Panelo also backed calls to make hazing a heinous crime, saying it would put an end to violent initiations.

"If you make it (hazing) a heinous crime and make the heads and members (of the group) responsible, it would stop. If you are the head, would you allow that to happen?" he said.

ANTI-HAZING LAW DARWIN DORMITORIO SALVADOR PANELO
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