DEPUTY Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday protested the appointment of Major General Bartolome “Bob” Bacarro as the new commander of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (SolCom), citing a lack of accountability over Bacarro’s involvement in the 2019 hazing death of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet Darwin Dormitorio.
Bacarro has been named as the replacement of retiring Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade as SolCom chief when he steps down on July 26.
Rodriguez, representative for Cagayan De Oro’s 2nd district, where Dormitorio hailed from, also called on the President to recall Bacarro’s appointment.
In a statement, Rodriguez alleged that “Mr. Bacarro is one of those responsible for the death by hazing” of Dormitorio in Baguio City on September 18, 2019, the first known hazing fatality in the country after the signing of the 2018 Anti-Hazing Act.
The Baguio prosecutor’s office previously dismissed charges against Bacarro himself, who served as the cadets’ commandant in 2019, while pressing charges against the PMA cadets directly involved in the incident.
However, according to Rodriguez, the Dormitorio family had appealed the dismissal with the Department of Justice (DOJ), convinced of the PMA officials’ involvement in the incident.
Rodriguez also claimed that he and the Dormitorio family are unable to understand how Bacarro was allowed to continue up the ranks without having to account for the incident.
“The anti-hazing law places great responsibility for hazing incidents and irregularities on those who have supervision over such activities. These developments are a grave injustice to my late constituent, his family, and the people of Cagayan de Oro City,” Rodriguez said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana meanwhile defended the appointment, claiming that the Baguio prosecution office’s decision stands and that Bacarro had been cleared of responsibility.