New AFP Chief of Staff was PMA commandant during fatal hazing case

·2 min read
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro. (Photo: Atty. Charo Gonzales Oca/Facebook)
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro. (Photo: Atty. Charo Gonzales Oca/Facebook)

Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, the newly appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, served as Commandant of Cadets of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) when cadet Darwin Dormitorio was hazed, resulting in his untimely death.

Bacarro, at the time, quit along with PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista. Their resignations were accepted by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal.

The two were eventually indicted by the Baguio City prosecutor in June 2020 for lack of probable cause. This decision of the prosecutor’s office led Cagayan de Oro representative Rufus Gutierrez to urge the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) in reviewing the criminal complaints filed against Bacarro and Evangelista, in light of Bacarro’s appointment as commander of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM).

His SOLCOM appointment was defended by the Department of National Defense (DND), citing a “rigorous selection process.”

In September 2019, Dormitorio died inside a PMA barracks after suffering alleged hazing-related injuries. Prior to his death, he was sent to the hospital two times after his fellow cadets allegedly caused various injuries.

Bacarro was appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday (August 1). He is expected to serve for three years, based on RA 11709.

The new Chief of Staff will begin his responsibilities starting August 8. At the moment, he is in charge of SOLCOM – the unified command of the Southern Tagalog (except Palawan) and Bicol regions, which are currently experiencing rampant human rights violations.

Bacarro was born on Sept. 18, 1966 in San Fernando, La Union. He was a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1988. He was assigned with the 5th Infantry Division in Isabela province shortly after graduation, holding various positions until 1995.

Bacarro was appointed Army spokesperson and chief of public affairs office in Fort Bonifacio in November 2004. He rose through the ranks to become the spokesperson of the AFP and chief of the Public Affairs Office.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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