Karapatan hits hazing, torture and death of PMA cadet

Human rights group Karapatan condemned the killing of a PMA cadet last week. A military 4th class cadet died of hazing at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City on September 18, 2019. According to reports, Darwin Dormitorio suffered from blunt force trauma that was caused by the maltreatment initiated by at least three of his fellow cadets.

“It is truly abhorrent that hazing and torture, both against the law, are happening inside an institution that is expected to develop and train the youth to become officers who serve and protect human rights. This is indicative of a long-standing practice and a mentality that inflicting harm on others, so long as you can get away with it, is permissible. The scalawags in the government's state forces are enabled from a young age, poisoned by a mercenary tradition," said Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor.

Under Philippine laws, hazing is banned through Republic Act No. 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018. It prohibits all forms of hazing and regulates the initiation rites – physical and psychological – of fraternities, sororities, and organizations. Meanwhile, to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee the full respect of human rights, Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 penalizes torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment.

“We strongly condemn this recent fatal incident inside the Philippine Military Academy. This shows us that torture is alive and is being inculcated among students inside the military school amid all of our existing laws. This incident will halt the said practice for an immediate time, only to be resurrected again when the attention has died down. Cadets and future soldiers never learn because even their Commander-in-Chief is the foremost enabler of killings, torture and various forms of cruelty and machismo," he added.

According to Clamor, the death of Dormitorio entails that military trainings such as the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) will never serve a good outcome. Instead, it will only further the countless human rights violations committed by the government and its military against the people.

“It was already proven by a series of incidents that happened in the past. ROTC, which also serves as a gateway for militarization in schools, has claimed the lives of students who were forced to join trainings. It will never serve a good purpose. It is irrelevant in fostering discipline, responsibility, and patriotism. All throughout, it only escalated the countless human rights abuses that are rooted in a torture, misplaced authority, arrogance, and machismo,” he said.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Dormitorio, and will vow to stand in seeking for justice for him and for all the victims of abuses committed by institutions who propagate cruelty and torture," Clamor concluded.