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Baguio prosecutor indicts PMA cadets in Dormitorio case for murder

The Baguio City prosecutor's office has approved the filing of hazing and murder charges against three Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets, its former hospital chief and two doctors over the death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio last year.

Cadets Shalimar Imperial, Jr. and Felix Lumbag, Jr. will face charges in court for hazing and murder. Another cadet, Julius Carlo Tadena, will face charges for hazing and "less serious physical injuries," according to a resolution released on Wednesday.

Charges for "slight physical injuries" were approved against cadet Christian Zacarias.

Meanwhile, the city prosecutor approved the filing of murder charges against former PMA Station Hospital chief Lt. Col. Ceasar Candelaria and medical officers Capt. Flor Apple Apostol and Maj. Maria Ofelia Beloy.

The complaints against cadets Axl Rey Sanopao, Rey David John Volante, John Vincent Manalo, and tactical officers Maj. Rex Bolo and Capt. Jeffrey Batistiana were dismissed for lack of probable cause.

Prosecutors also cleared former PMA superintendent Lt. General Ronnie Evangelista and former cadet commandant Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro for lack of probable cause. Both officials resigned in September 2019.

Dormitorio died on September 18, 2019 after months of repeated maltreatment by his fellow cadets that had led to his hospitalization the previous month, according to police.

"Looking back at hindsight, the untimely demise of Dormitorio was the result of several missed opportunities and a series of mishandling of facts and decision-making," prosecutors said.

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento confirmed the resolution.

In the 66-page resolution, prosecutors said Imperial and Lumbag have "undoubtedly been the cause of the repeated beatings of Dormitorio over the known period between August 20, 2019 and September 17, 2019," while Tadena used a stun gun on the cadet and Zacarias dragged and kicked him several times.

"As it is, one cadet succumbed to his injuries and died as a result. Yet it appears that this death was preventable," prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said PMASH doctors and its chief should have referred Dormitorio to a higher-level hospital but did not do so. Apostol had maintained her diagnosis that the cadet had a urinary tract infection, but the "opinions of the medico-legal officers say otherwise," prosecutors said.

"Based on the above-discussions, Lumbag, Jr. and Imperial, Jr. intentionally and consistently beat Dormitorio and internal injuries that resulted were the proximate cause of the death, and doctors Apostol, Candelaria, and Beloy also grossly failed to provide adequate medical care to Dormitorio, which also caused the latter‘s death," prosecutors said.

"The doctors' failure to provide the proper medical treatment and care were patently and unmistakably indispensable in the resulting death of their patient who was already suffering from serious internal injuries inflicted by two upperclass cadets. The death of Dormitorio was therefore the cumulative result of the intentional acts of two cadets and the gross negligence of the doctors," they said.

Assistant City Prosecutors Margarita De Guzman Manalo, Edwin Brian Sagsago, and Philip Randolf Kiat-Ong investigated the criminal complaints and recommended the charges. City Prosecutor Elmer Manuel Sagsago approved their resolution. —NB/LDF, GMA News