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PMA justifies cadet’s dismissal

By Artemio Dumlao

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FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City, Philippines – The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is standing pat on its decision to dismiss graduating cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia for violation of its long-standing tradition of the Honor Code.

Cudia’s case is not an issue about being late in class, according to Major Lynette Flores, spokesperson of the PMA.

“While it started as a violation of the regulations, which is coming to class late, the findings of the preliminary investigation conducted revealed a possibility of Cadet Cudia violating the Honor Code which led to the opening of formal investigation by the Honor Committee,” she said.

While the PMA recognizes his academic performance, “this does not exempt him from strict observance of the Code,” Flores said.

Cudia is supposed to graduate this March.

Flores explained the development of character and integrity among the cadets is a fundamental objective of the PMA.

“The Honor Code and the Honor System are among the primary instruments in attaining this objective,” Flores said.

Such system is unique, Flores said, “which molds all the cadets to develop themselves into upright leaders of tomorrow.”

Only last Feb. 15, during the annual alumni homecoming, former senator Panfilo Lacson, now presidential assistant on rehabilitation and reconstruction, told the cadets and his fellow cavaliers (graduates) to maintain the honor system in the academy and put premium on the living tradition of courage, integrity and loyalty.

Even if somebody is not looking, live up to the creed of “do not cheat, lie and steal” in and outside of the academy, he said.

Flores further explained that “the Honor Code is absolute and it does not distinguish between the degree of the offense committed. Once they lied, cheated, stole or tolerated the commission of these offenses, there is only one punishment – separation.”

Flores insisted that PMA accorded due process to Cudia.

“The case folder bearing the recommendation of the PMA Superintendent for his separation from military service has been duly endorsed to higher headquarters in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for appropriate action,” Flores said.

Cudia, a native of Arayat, Pampanga, was scheduled to graduate as salutatorian of his class next month and was the number one pick among the graduating cadets who have chosen to join the Philippine Navy (PN).

He is now fighting the order for his dismissal from the academy.

Cudia reportedly came to class two minutes late and was meted the penalty of 11 demerits and 13 hours of “touring,” which he reportedly complied with under appeal because he claimed his being late was not of his own doing.

Cudia told his sister Annavee that while he got a harsher penalty for being late, his classmates only got eight demerits and eight hours of touring as penalty from their tactical officer, whom he did not name.

Touring means that a penalized cadet or cadette is required to run the number of hours as stipulated in the penalty inside the compound of the academy. Demerits are automatically reflected in their military files.

Annavee has brought her brother’s case to social media, appealing to the public as well as government leadership for help.

AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista ordered a reinvestigation of the case. Flores confirmed this.

Cudia, the PMA said, has been placed on indefinite leave while awaiting final disposition of his case.

A number of PMA graduates said the reinvestigation could overturn the previous findings of the Honor Committee.

“Let us see if Gen. Bautista will go against the honor system,” one PMA graduate said.

He suggested that Cudia, instead of questioning and fighting his separation, take the most honorable way by tendering his resignation.

Citing the case of another graduating cadet more senior than Cudia who was ordered separated from the service five days before the PMA graduation rites, the dismissed 1st class cadet then, now a middle-grade officer, did not question the ruling and instead silently resigned but later reentered the military via direct commission.

A ranking official of the Philippine National Police also said Cudia’s being readmitted to the PMA will have consequences.

The police official, a graduate of PMA, said Cudia would still suffer being ostracized by other PMAers.

The police official said the issue involving Cudia was no longer about his being late for two minutes but for lying on the reason why he was late for formation.

“Lying is one of the honor code in the PMA. Our honor code is a cadet does not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do,” said the official.

He expressed belief Cudia was given a fair chance since the nine members of the Honor Committee belong to his batch, meaning they could be lenient.

If only one of the nine members of the committee abstains on the case, the cadet will be free from any charges, he said. The members of the committee unanimously agreed that Cudia indeed violated the PMA’s Code of Honor.

The police official said in cases of violating the code, the subject cadet is given two options – to resign and leave the academy or to suffer the consequence.

The official recalled instances when a cadet who was accused of violating the Code decided to leave the academy.

“There were also two instances when the cadets opted to suffer the consequence, who eventually left the service because no one talked to or even looked at him,” the official added. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, JaimeLaude

 

 

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