‘Darwin Died a Hero:’ Hundreds Pay Tribute to PMA Cadet in Cagayan de Oro

  • Darwin Dormitorio was laid to rest on Sept. 25, and he was given full military honors
  • Friends and family gathered to honor his memory
  • New developments in the case revealed two new suspects on the case, and a Taser that was allegedly used to electrocute Dormitorio

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Hundreds joined the funeral rites of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio on Wednesday, September 25.

A FATHER'S GRIEF. Retired Army Colonel William Dormitorio wipes his tears while listening to the eulogy for his son Darwin. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
Retired Army Colonel William Dormitorio//via by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Friends and city residents gathered with the Dormitorio family at the Cagayan de Oro Gardens in Barangay Lumbia to pay their last respects to the young PMA cadet. At the funeral rites friends and family members took turns honoring the memory of the bright young cadet. 

Dormitorio’s girlfriend, Ashley Ravidas, said in her eulogy that Darwin was a patriot and wanted to help change the world through public service.

“He talks about serving the country. Every time we had talks about social issues, I would tell him: ‘Bhe, I don’t like it anymore here in the Philippines. We will go abroad, it is so rotten here.’ And he would always tell me not to worry as once he became a soldier, he will use all his powers to change the Philippines. ‘So just wait and don’t give up,'” Ravidas narrated.

One of his friends, Joshua Napone, also shared that he always wanted to be a soldier. 

“We, his friends, were always supportive of his goals. And we all know in our hearts that he will become a soldier – a super soldier, our Captain Philippines…our brother not by blood but by bonds, the bond that we shared in our squad is something we all deeply cherish. This bond will never be broken even by distance, time nor death,” Napone said.

APOLOGIES. Colonel Claro Unson, PMA Deputy Dean of Academics hands the Philippine flag to Jazy Dormitorio, Darwin's mother, as husband retired Army Colonel William Dormitorio looks on. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler
Figure 1 via Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Dormitorio was accorded full military honors, including a 21-gun salute.

The plebe died on Wednesday, Sept. 18 due to internal bleeding. He was found unconscious inside Room 209 of Mayo Hall Annex Wednesday morning. He was then rushed to the PMA Station Hospital at around 4 AM that day. He was declared dead more than an hour later.

According to a report by Rappler, Senator Panfilo Lacson, a PMA graduate, released a statement about the persistence of “hazing” in the academy despite the enactment of a stronger anti-hazing law and past incidents that should have deterred the practice.

“They never learn. Hazing is as old a practice as far as we can remember. Many upper class cadets in the past were either dismissed, some had served time inside a military stockade, even charged before a court martial and lost their opportunities in life,” Lacson said in a statement following Dormitorio’s death.

“Even now that an anti-hazing law has been amended, after we investigated the hazing due to the death of Horacio ‘Atio’ Castillo, those possibly responsible for the death of Cadet Dormitorio are now surely regretting what they did. It is too late for them though and they will have to face the consequence of their indiscretions,” Lacson added.


Cadets Third Class Shalimar Imperial and Felix Lumbag, Dormitorio’s squad mates, and Cadet First Class Axl Ray Sanupao, who reportedly encouraged the maltreatment – were dismissed from the PMA as part of administrative sanctions and now face criminal charges of violations of the anti-hazing law in civilian court.

Baguio City police director Col. Allen Rae Co refused to identify the new suspects, both third class cadets, who directly participated in Dormitorio’s hazing on separate occasions. He further said that the two new suspects allegedly maltreated Dormitorio last Sept. 17, the same day the victim was beaten up by Imperial, Lumbag, and Sanupao. 

via Michelle Soriano/ABS-CBN News

In the incident, Co said the victim was beaten up after he apparently lost a pair of combat boots entrusted to him by Sanupao. Additionally, ABS-CBN reports that authorities also presented a Taser flashlight believed to have been used to inflict injury on Dormitorio. It was surrounded by one of the newly-identified suspects on the night of the cadet’s death. 

The Taser was “most likely” used to electrocute Dormitorio’s private parts, according to Police Brig. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, director of Police Regional Office-Cordillera.

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