PMA 2023 valedictorian honors fallen mistahs on graduation day

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — Cadet First Class Warren Leonor, the top graduate of the Philippine Military Academy's (PMA) Madasigon Class of 2023, remembered his batchmates Cadet Darwin Dormitorio and Cadet Mario Telan Jr., on their graduation day.

"To our dear mistahs who have departed, Cadet Darwin Dormitorio and Cadet Mario Telan Jr., you will forever be a cherished part of the Madasigon Class of 2023," Leonor said in his valedictory speech before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and military officials at Fort Del Pilar.

Dormitorio and Telan would have graduated with Leonor and the rest of their mistahs or batchmates on Sunday, had they not died from hazing and drowning, respectively, during their freshman year.

In September 2019, Dormitorio died after he was brought to the PMA hospital after losing consciousness, vomiting, and complaining about stomach pains. Police later found he died of hazing-related injuries and was maltreated by his upperclassmen.

READ: A month of maltreatment: Dormitorio’s last days

Two months after Dormitorio's death, Telan was found at the deep end of the 15-foot campus pool and was declared dead on arrival at the PMA hospital. Police confirmed that he had drowned.

READ: Irregularities in PMA drowning incident? Swimming instructors, fellow cadets face probe

Leonor, fellow graduates ready to serve

The top graduate also expressed gratitude to their underclassmen for "providing [them] the opportunity to grow as leaders."

Leonor also looked back at his experiences at the PMA and thanked his mentors and family.

He called on his fellow graduates to "relentlessly pursue the welfare of others" and recognize that "there is always an opportunity to serve."

"To the Filipino people, we are ready to serve you," he said.

Three hundred ten members of the graduating class braved the rigorous physical and mental training of the country's premier military school to officially join the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Of these graduates, 158 will become part of the Philippine Army, 75 will join the Philippine Air Force (PAF), and 77 will enter the Philippine Navy.

Leonor is among those who will join the PAF. In addition to the Award of Excellence, Leonor also received the Presidential Saber, Philippine Air Force Saber, and the Joint United States Military Assistance Group Saber, among others.

READ: 'True battles' begin now: Marcos vows to work closely with PMA 2023 grads