The Department of Justice on Wednesday recommended the prosecution of three Philippine Military Academy (PMA) officer-doctors and two cadets for murder and hazing charges, in connection with their alleged roles in the death and hazing of Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio last Sept. 18.
In a 66-page resolution, the DOJ panel of prosecutors found probable cause to file murder charges against PMA officer-doctors Lt. Col. Caesar Almer Candelaria, Captain Flor Apple Apostol, and Major Maria Ofelia Beloy; and two PMA Cadet Third Class Shalimar Imperial Jr. and Felix Lumbag Jr.
The DOJ prosecutors also recommended the prosecution of Imperial and Lumbag for hazing for violating Republic Act no. 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018. If convicted, they will suffer imprisonment of reclusion perpetua or life sentence with a fine of P3 million.
Cadet Third Class Julius Carlo Tadena was recommended for prosecution under RA 11053 and be penalized under Section 14 (b) or the prison sentence of reclusion perpetua with a fine of P2 million; and was also recommended for less serious physical injuries.
While Cadet Second Class Christian Zacarias was recommended that he be prosecuted for slight physical injuries.
On the other hand, the prosecutors dismissed for lack of probable cause the complaints of violation of RA 11053, RA no. 9745 or the “Anti-Torture Act of 2009, murder, and dereliction of duty filed against Cadet First Class Cadet Axl Rey Sanopao, Cadet Third Class Rey David John Volante, Cadet Third Class John Vincent Manalo, Major Rex Bolo, and Captain Jeffrey Batistiana.
The DOJ prosecutors also dismissed for probable cause the complaint RA 11053, RA 9745, and dereliction of duty filed against former PMA Superintendent Lieutenant General Ronnie Evangelista and former Cadet Corps commandant Brigadier General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro.
In ruling against the respondents, the prosecutors lamented that while Dormitorio died, his death was preventable.
Capt. Apostol maintained that the victim was suffering from urinary track infection (UTI), but the medico-legal officers reportedly gave a different opinion because he did not have fever, which normally accompanies a UTI.
While the PMA Station Hospital (PMASH) might not have been equipped to provide proper medical care for Domitorio, during the clarificatory hearings, the DOJ panel said the doctors should have referred him to a higher level of medical facility or a hospital.
“The victim stayed at the PMASH for several hours, “which to our mind were sufficient window to have him be referred to a higher level facility. We also note the medical records of Dormitorio on that day— he was not found to be suffering from fever nor was he given any medicine to address any form of fever that accompanies this severe form of UTI, in addition to the fact that Dormitorio also exhibited external signs of injuries such as hematoma and burns,” the DOJ panel observed.
Dr. Beloy reportedly only visited Dormitorio during her regular morning rounds while his attending physician Dr. Apostol should have monitored the victim to know if his condition was deteriorating.
“The doctors reportedly failed to properly diagnose Dormitorio’s correct illness due to their non-observance of the proper and acceptable standard of medical examinations; and that the medical examination was not comprehensive,” the prosecutors said.
On the part of Lumbag and Imperial, the DOJ prosecutors found out that they “intentionally and consistently beat Dormitorio” and internal injuries that resulted were the proximate cause of the death.”
“The death of Dormitorio was therefore the cumulative result of the intentional acts of two cadets and the gross negligence of the doctors… 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,” the prosecutors concluded.