At the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy, hazing and other forms of violence against cadets are “normal,” according to messages sent to friends and family before his death and presented by his family before a House panel on higher and technical education on Tuesday.
“Normal lang ang hazing dito kuya. ‘Wag mo na sabihin kay mama ha," said Jonash Bondoc, a 4th Class Cadet who was found dead inside a bathroom in the PMMA campus after supposedly being punched twice in the chest by a senior cadet, in a message to his older brother Joshua last November 24, 2020.
Jonash attempted to assuage Joshua’s concerns about his admission that hazing is common in PMMA by claiming that senior cadets know how to control themselves and are only testing the strength of junior cadets.
While hazing may appear to be normal, Jonash stated that PMMA does not tolerate it and will expel any cadet caught engaging in it.
“Ginagawa lang ‘to ng mga senior para palakasin [ang kadete.] Lalo na ‘pag may atraso at pa-lousy lousy ka. ‘Pag papansinin ka dito, kawawa ka talaga,” Jonash told Joshua.
Jonash complained of being “so f****** stressed and tired mentally and physically” in messages to unidentified friends, which were sent to his family and shown to the House panel, as he told them that cadets barely slept and were beaten up.
“Thirteen minutes lang tulog namin. P****, nakakapagod. Gising na naman alas-3, tapos bubugbugin na naman tapos tulog ulit tapos gising ulit na naman para gulpihin ulit,” Joshua told one of his friends in a message that was forwarded to Jelou after his death.
He told another friend that they were not permitted to eat snacks and that if they did, they would be kicked out of PMMA and beaten up.
He also told another friend that drinking sessions are common inside the PMMA, despite the fact that alcohol is not permitted on its premises, and that the people there are “sadists” when they get drunk.
Jonash’s other older brother Jelou received messages from him in which he stated that abusive senior cadets “will never go away,” but also assuaged his fears for his safety.
“‘Di naman mawawala ‘yan. Pero ‘di ‘yan uubra sa akin,” Jonash said. “Nawawala lang din ang sakit, normal lang ‘yan dito.”
Glaiza Bondoc, Jonash’s eldest sister, stated that if they had known the extent of her brother’s alleged abuse, they would have removed him from the academy.
An investigation conducted by the PMMA’s board of trustees, led by Commission on Higher Education Commissioner Ronald Adamat, concluded that Jonash’ death was a one-time occurrence.
“We found out they adhere to the anti-hazing law and the immediate conclusion was this is just an isolated case,” Adamat said.
Some members of the Bondoc family received messages from anonymous people claiming to be PMMA cadets warning them not to allow the academy to conduct its own investigation.
"Wag niyo po hayaang i-manipulate nila ang imbestigasyon. Walang mapagkakatiwalaan po diyan simula sa puno,” an anonymous person told Glaiza in a message which was also presented before the House panel.
Anonymous sources informed Glaiza and her mother, Grace, that cadets were allegedly instructed to make the same statements about what happened to Jonash. They also claimed that the senior cadet who punched Jonash and is now facing homicide charges was not the only one who caused him harm.
An anonymous person sent Jelou two video clips of PMMA cadets, which were shown during the hearing. In one video, a shirtless man whacked the hands of alleged cadets with a long plank of wood, while another video showed alleged cadets being punched in the chest by another cadet.
PMMA Superintendent Joel Abutal stated that they are unable to comment because these incidents were allegedly not reported to them.
“We cannot comment because these never reached us. If it’s reported, surely, we would have taken appropriate action including termination of cadets and appropriate intervention in our policies and processes,” Abutal said partly in Filipino.
The Bondoc family continues to believe that Jonash died as a result of hazing, rather than homicide, as the police ruled back in July, citing a medico-legal report that showed he had multiple bruises on his body and died from a blunt traumatic injury to the head.
Deceased cadet’s messages say hazing ‘normal’ at maritime academy|PhilStar