PMA to look into fallen cadet’s letter written before his death

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

THE Philippine Military Academy (PMA) has vowed to check on the veracity and authenticity of the letter allegedly written by Cadet 4th Class Mario Telan Jr. about the physical abuse he went through inside the academy before he died of drowning, an official said on Saturday, November 23.

PMA spokesperson Captain Cherryl Tindog said they are urging the person, a certain Jose Larry Hermoso IV, to show them the letter which Hermosa posted on social media and claimed it was given by Telan to a “trusted person” before the tragic incident.

“We were shocked to see the alleged letter of Cadet Telan in the Facebook post of Mr. Hermoso. But just like any other serious matters, we have to take measures according to due process such as checking the veracity and authenticity of the letter, and the identity and intent of the owner of the post. As we have reported, the investigations, in parallel with the police as well as with the results of the autopsy, were already completed and have resulted to sanctions against the swimming instructors of Cadet Telan,” Tindog said in a statement.

“Because the content of the alleged letter and the posts themselves are highly serious allegations with highly serious legal implications, we urge the owner of that post to show us the letter, to talk with us, and to allow PMA to do the appropriate actions to resolve the problem. This also holds true with others who might be having issues at hand,” she added.

Telan died on November 20 due to drowning, according to an autopsy report.

Two of his swimming instructors were sacked for negligence and imprudence, while several of his fellow students were still under investigation.

In the Facebook post of Hermoso, he said Telan gave a letter to a trusted person who was not a relative while the victim was hospitalized for a month due to injuries particularly in his knee.

“Ulat ng isang napakwentuhan ni Mario Telan, di lang namamaga ‘yung tuhod ni Telan kundi nagkaroon na rin ng nana,” the post read.

(According to the person whom Mario Telan spoke to, his knee was not only swollen but also had pus.)

“This could be caused sa ginagawa ng mga upperclassman na pag nakikitang ‘pumipikit’ ang isang plebe, didikdikin nila ang mga paa ng mga plebe gamit ang isang 5ky na baril para gisingin ito,” it added.

(This could be caused by the upperclassmen who would hit the feet of the plebes trying to fall asleep using a 5ky gun.)

Telan narrated in his letter the maltreatment he experienced from their upperclassmen, which he believes was “part of the training” in order to test the limits of the body when taking pain.

“Namatay ba si Mario Telan sa pagkalunod? O dahil namatay siya sa torture at hazing din, tulad ni Darwin?” Hermoso said, referring to Cadet Fourth Class Darwin Dormitorio who died in September 2019 over injuries sustained from hazing.

As reported, Dormitorio showed signs of electrocution which Telan supported in his letter saying that aside from being beaten, they were also being “charged” -- the cadet’s term for being electrocuted.

“That is their way to discipline us here and in order for us to be ready when we’re deployed in the field. Masakit at nakakalow-morale dito pero [ito] ang buhay na ginusto ko,” Telan wrote.

(It’s demoralizing and painful, but this is the life that I wanted.)

He said he would deal with his sadness by locking himself up inside the cabinet where he could release his frustrations.

Hermoso said according to Telan’s letter, several investigators went to check on the “hazing den” inside the PMA after Dormitorio’s death as well as other incidents of maltreatment.

He, however, said the investigators were only concerned of wealthy plebes with “connections.”

“Based sa statement sa iyon, mas privileged ang mayayaman at may koneksyon na plebo. Walang may pakialam sa mga mahihirap na plebo, tulad ni Mario Telan,” the post said.

(Based from the statement, the plebes who are wealthy and have connections are more privileged. No concern was given to poor plebes, like Mario Telan.)

However, despite the hardships, Telan continued to love the PMA as an institution, “just not the people in it.” (SunStar Philippines)