A "weapon" that shaped them into the warriors they are today.
This was how some alumni of the Philippine Military Academy, who have all gone on to occupy high-ranking positions in government, summed up their view on hazing amid the controversy over the death of 20-year-old PMA Fourth Class cadet Darwin Dormitorio allegedly due to hazing.
Dormitorio died of hazing on September 20, with an autopsy showing bruises on different parts of his body that were probably the result of him being punched and kicked several times.
“Hazing is as old as [the] discipline itself because weapon ‘yan na ginagamit. Over time dapat meron na[ng natutunan], naging creative na yung mga kadete dahil nga with the passing of time, marami ng mga batas na naipasa," Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday told reporters.
According to Lacson, cadets should come up with creative ways to perform hazing without inflicting physical harm.
Similarly, Senator General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, viewed hazing as an act that develops cadets' discipline.
"Tine-train ang mga tao diyan para maging warriors," Dela Rosa said.
The former police chief shared an experience wherein he was forced to drink half a bottle of fish sauce and vinegar that made him dizzy for a week.
"Again, hindi ko jina-justify yung hazing porket dinaanan ko na 'yan, natapos ako ng four years na bugbugan sa academy... Coming from me, I must tell you, yung lahat ng pinagdaanan ko na paghihirap, diyan ako naging disiplanado at [kaya] ako naging ganito ngayon," he added.
Like Dela Rosa, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde also shared his hazing experience, adding that it molded him into the person he is today.
“I will be lying kung sabihin kong hindi ako na-haze. I’m sure you know my squad leader. He molded me into who I am now. Tanong niyo sa kaniya paano ako nahaze but I have nothing against him,” Albayalde said, but clarified that was only his opinion on the issue.
But despite having a positive view on his hazing experience, Albayalde insisted that hazing should not be tolerated.
“We are not encouraging hazing. Never did we encourage hazing, even sabi ko nga during the early years. Hazing is taboo sa PMA,” Albayalde said.
“These are all matters of personal perception on how you will accept it as a person and as a cadet... as a person who will be leading men in uniform,” he added.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also shared an experience with hazing wherein one of his underclassmen died during his cadet years at the PMA.
"Noong time namin, I was already third year noon, may namatay din na kadete noon—anak ni former General Andres Ramos, Class '85. So parang ganoon din, out of control na insidente," Año said in an interview on GMA's Unang Balita.
"Noong time namin noon meron ding ganyan pero responsible 'yung mga upperclassmen na hindi ma-endager 'yung buhay ng plebo," he added.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal denounced hazing.
"We have already directed the Philippine Military Academy to conduct a thorough and speedy investigation to shed light into the incident. We will also hand over those responsible to proper authorities and let the wheel of justice turn," Madrigal said in a statement.
Lacson graduated from the PMA in 1971, Ano in 1983, Madrigal in 1985, and Bato and Albayalde in 1986. — Joahna Lei Casilao/MDM, GMA News