'Mamatay man sa giyera': Slain PMA cadet wanted to spark change, says girlfriend

Pia Regalado, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2019 08:05 PM | Updated as of Sep 26 2019 09:16 PM

Darwin Dormitorio's girlfriend, Ashley Ravidas, holds a photo of the deceased cadet. Courtesy of Ashley Ravidas

Darwin Dormitorio wanted nothing else but to serve the country and spark positive change.

Inspired by his father, the 20-year-old Cagayan de Oro native traveled to Baguio to train as a soldier at the Philippine Military Academy.

"Gusto po talaga n'ya maging sundalo, ever since nung bata pa siya," Dormitorio's girlfriend, Ashley Ravidas, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

"He wanted nothing but to serve. Mamatay man sa giyera but to leave a legacy, wanted nothing but to pursue his dreams for himself and his family."

However, his dream was cut short when the cadet died inside his barracks at Fort del Pilar on September 18.

According to initial reports, the cadet complained of stomach pain and was brought immediately to the hospital for treatment where he died. A couple of days later, the Philippine National Police confirmed that the bruises on his stomach were consistent with hazing.

Baguio police said that on September 17, Dormitorio was "punished" by one of the upperclassmen for losing his combat boots. Authorities also added that a taser flashlight was "most likely" used to electrocute his private parts.

Ravidas, his girlfriend of three years, admitted that she and Dormitorio talked about reports of hazing in the premier military institution even before he left for training.

"Palagi n'yang sinasabi na okay lang daw siya, 'wag kami mag-alala. We had no idea."

Ravidas believes Dormitorio was instructed not to say a word about the hazing.

'Change will happen'

Ravidas' boyfriend may have become the sacrificial lamb to publicize the hazing at the academy, and she is determined to follow the case until it gets solved.

"I hope this serves as a lesson. Ayokong mangyari ito ulit sa iba. The pain they left us is unbearable. Darwin wanted change but he didn't have the chance to make that happen... So we will make the change happen for him," she said.

She tells the perpetrators, "they will face the consequences of their actions."

"We will leave no stone unturned until we solve this case."

Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a PMA alumnus, earlier said he hopes the academy could find alternatives to hazing in instilling discipline among cadets.

Social Welfare secretary Rolando Bautista, who was also a former Army chief, also blasted the violent tradition. Senator Ping Lacson, a former PNP chief, said the suspects behind the cadet's death has "misplaced enthusiasm" on hazing a PMA freshman.

Despite this, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who also admitted he underwent hazing, conceded that hazing is embedded in the PMA culture as cadets there are trained to become warriors.

Dormitorio's fatal hazing is the first case in the PMA in 18 years.