New leaders will take the helm of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), replacing the two top officials of the institution following the death of Cadet 1st Class Darwin Dormitorio due to “maltreatment”.
Rear Admiral Allan Ferdinand Cusi has been named acting PMA superintendent, while BGen. Romeo Brawner has been appointed as acting commandant of cadets, according to newly installed Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Noel Clement.
Cusi is replacing Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, while Brawner is replacing BGen. Bartolome Vincente Bacarro. Evangelista and Bacarro earlier resigned amid outrage triggered by news of Dormitorio’s death broke.
Cusi is currently the commander of the Naval Education, Training and Doctrine Command of the Philippine Navy.
Brawner, known for having led the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade during the siege of Marawi City by Islamist militants, assumed his post Thursday afternoon and immediately declared a “war on hazing.”
“I expect everyone under my jurisdiction, especially the Cadet Corps to toe the line. If you are not willing to wage a war against hazing, then you better leave. There is no place for you in this organization. And I mean business,” he said.
He also assured parents of cadets that the PMA will take care of their children and “will mold them to become servant leaders.”
Brawner said Dormitorio’s death is symptomatic of a larger social problem that requires a “whole of nation approach.”
“But we will not try to solve the problem of our society. We will only focus on the things that we can solve here at our level,” Brawner said.
There are now five suspects in the “maltreatment” of Dormitorio, three of whom — Cadet 1st Class Axl Ray Sanupao, and third class cadets Shalimar Imperial and Felix Lumbag — have been expelled from the PMA.
They will all be facing charges for violating the anti-hazing law, which penalizes violators with life imprisonment and a ₱3-million fine if a hazing rite leads to death, rape, sodomy, or mutilation. Criminal negligence raps will also be filed against at least one PMA hospital medical officer.
Police investigation revealed Wednesday that Dormitorio was beaten up over missing boots that were entrusted to him by Sanupao. After the combat boots went missing for a week, Dormitorio was “made to report” to Sanupao, Imperial and Lumbag. The three proceeded to Imperial and Lumbag’s room, where the maltreatment occurred.
Dormitorio was initially rushed to the PMA hospital complaining of a stomach ache. He was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, and discharged after four hours, only for him to start vomiting hours after he returned to the barracks.
He was found unconscious the next day and was rushed back to the hospital. He was declared dead on arrival.
CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent David Santos contributed to this report.