BAGUIO CITY—Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde on Saturday condemned the death of a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet due to suspected hazing, calling the incident an "affront" to what the institution stands for.
Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio, 20, died on Sept. 18 due to alleged hazing, following three trips to the hospital that started in August. He had severe internal injuries due to blows to his body, investigation showed.
In an ambush interview here, the top police official said hazing has no place in society and that it should be condemned by all law-abiding citizens.
Albayalde recalled a "walk in, walk out" protest he and his batchmates staged at the PMA to defend 2 fellow cadets "wrongly accused" in a hazing incident.
"Remember when we were second year or yearling cadets nag-walk out kami dito because we were fighting for our classmate na... na-involve din sa hazing... [B]ut then we are asking the commandant of cadets to have mercy to those other 2 na wala naman kinalaman and yet dini-dismiss din nila," Albayalde said.
Albayalde was a member of the PMA Sinagtala class of 1986, a batch that produced 2 PNP chiefs and other notable officials.
Albayalde is in Baguio for the testimonial parade hosted by the PMA to honor its retiring alumni.
He said he chose Sept. 28 for his testimonial parade to pay homage to his batch's protest.
However, following the hazing of Dormitorio, he decided not to proceed with the celebration.
"[T]his date [sana] kasama ko 'yung mga classmate ko but then again hindi na namin tinuloy ito, it's because of the controversies that is hounding this institution. So hindi naman siguro tama na we will be celebrating ang tinatawag namin na walk out and then walk in and then there are some controversies or problema dito sa loob ng PMA," Albayalde said.
He likewise challenged the cadets to stamp out hazing within the PMA, hoping the death of Dormitorio would be the last.
The PNP chief is set to leave police service on November 8 on mandatory retirement.
RETIRING WITH 'HEAD HELD HIGH'
As he nears retirement, Albayalde said he will end his almost 4-decade police service with "head held high" amid the recent controversy over "ninja cops" or those who allegedly resell confiscated narcotics.
Albayalde's name was brought up after former police official-turned Baguio mayor Benjamin Magalong appeared before a Senate panel and revealed in an executive session that a "high-ranking official" was protecting 22 drug-dabbling officers.
But Albayalde said the allegations are "recycled and baseless" and the Senate inquiry will in the end exonerate him.
"Several times na-explain na natin 'yun," he said.
Senior police officials, including Albayalde, are set to face senators next week to shed light on the alleged involvement of rogue cops in the illegal drug trade.