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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

Hazing turns young men into savages

/ 04:07 AM September 30, 2019

The grief, anger and guilt must be unimaginable. For any parent to lose a child in the manner and under the circumstances that Darwin Dormitorio was killed is absolutely horrible.

Darwin was a 20-year-old freshman at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). He died last Sept. 18 under brutal circumstances because of hazing. He was repeatedly beaten up, punched in the stomach, kicked in the head, and his private parts were electrocuted by his upperclassmen. He was forced to do difficult physical exercises even when he was already in extreme pain and visibly weak. His body bore bruises and he sustained internal bleeding, causing him to suffer cardiac arrest.

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His family and friends recall that the young man’s lifelong dream, even as a small boy, was to become a soldier like his father. He must have idolized his old man so much for him to dream of following in his footsteps.

Darwin must have been so ecstatic when he got accepted to the PMA where his father was an alumnus. Anyone who has aspirations of joining the military would be euphoric at being accepted to the country’s premier military school. His father must have been so proud of his youngest son when he learned of the news.

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I can imagine, however, the trepidation of Darwin’s mother. Any woman who has a husband or son in the military service must deal with the constant fear of losing her loved one anytime. It must have been a huge relief for Mrs. Dormitorio when her husband retired from the service. But with Darwin’s enrollment in the PMA, she was surely bracing herself once again for days of agony and nights of anxiety whenever her son would be out in the field of battle.

But Darwin would not die in the battlefield at the hands of enemies. He would die inside military grounds at the hands of his own comrades in arms. He would die because of physical maltreatment that even rebel enemies have not been known to commit against their adversaries.

Reacting to news about Darwin’s death, former police chief and now Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa rambled with words meant to justify hazing. He said that if civilian universities have hazing, what more in a military academy, which is mandated to train “warriors.” Current police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde chimed in by saying that hazing is a “matter of personal perception.” Both men presented themselves as paragons of example by declaring that their hazing experience molded them into the kind of persons that they are today. Bad advertisement for hazing.

Statements justifying hazing as a necessity for our future military leaders amount to an accusation that the rigorous physical drills and the rigid exercises to instill discipline in the military academy are sorely inadequate. They amount to an assertion that modern methods of military training need to be supplemented with the brutality and cruelty of barbaric militias that thrived before the advent of modern armies.

Compared to a killing done by villains who make no pretensions to nobility in their wayward ways, the killing of Darwin at the hands of his comrades was made with the absurd representation that the severe beating he was subjected to was for his own good.

Darwin was tortured by people he called “buddies.” He was murdered by upperclassmen who were vested with a level of trust to look after their younger colleagues. The abuse suffered by Darwin at their hands is no different from the abuse of trust committed by religious men who molest their wards, and of teachers who maltreat their pupils.

Six senior cadets face multiple criminal charges for their participation in the death of Darwin. Their expulsion from the academy is certain. Not too long ago, these young men were wide-eyed youngsters no different from Darwin who had big dreams of becoming fine military leaders of their country. Because they underwent the brutalities of the hazing tradition, they learned the ways of cold-blooded savages. They were encouraged to pass it on. Their dreams have become nightmares as a result. Life imprisonment is now the future that awaits them.

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TAGS: Darwin Dormitorio, Flea Market of Ideas, hazing, Joey Ruiz Butuyan, PMA hazing
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