PMA cadet fights back, gets support
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Graduating cadet Jeff Aldrin Cudia filed a counter-complaint against 9 fellow cadets who were part of a committee that decided to sack him from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
Cudia filed the complaint before the Honor Committee to which the 9 belong. Since the commitee has at least 32 members representing the 4 PMA classes, the rest of the members will be hearing Cudia's complaint, according to PMA spokesperson Major Lynette Flores.
"He filed an honor report against the 9 members of the honor committee," Flores said in a text message. Essentially, Cudia is telling the committee that the cadets who decided against him also violated the Honor Code in the academy.
The code implores cadets to: "not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate among them those who do."
Cudia and his family are saying the committee, composed entirely of PMA cadets, dismissed him over a "trivial matter" – that he was late for 2 minutes in one class. The case became public when his foster parent posted her grievances on Facebook. No less than Armed Forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista ordered a re-investigation of the PMA's decision.
Cudia found a new ally: a PMA alumnus who was the class baron of PMA Class 1983 and a former member of the Honor Committee. (Cudia himself is a deputy class baron and is supposed to graduate with honors in March.)
"Do not cover up the 8-1 that became 9-0 and explain to me that it is the current practice. Shame on you all," wrote PMA alumnus Dado Enrique on his Facebook page. Enrique is referring to reports that one of the 9 members initially voted against Cudia's dismissal.
Enrique himself recently filed a case against 11 members of the Honor Committee "to include other cadets who affixed their signature" in the committee decision, he told Rappler in a phone interview. He said was convinced by Cudia who narrated to him what happened.
"Produce the video recorder of the trial to settle this and see how they tried this cadet," Enrique said.
Enrique defended the PMA Honor Code but raised questions about its implementation. He is a former Army Scout Ranger but left the military in the 1990s.
Enrique said he took it upon himself to talk to Cudia when he read the family's Facebook posts. He went to Baguio City before the alumni homecoming to talk to Cudia himself. He said he was convinced that Cudia should not be dismissed.
Many PMA alumni are protective of the Honor Code and the processes of the secretive Honor Committee.
In an apparent show of support for the PMA, some PMA alumni posted their cadet photos on Facebook. (READ: PMA alumni post cadet photos on Facebook)
Watch this video below.
But Enrique told Rappler: "I do not have to explain to my fellow alumni. I believe in this act – reporting the honor committee – because I saw that Cudia is just the tip of the iceberg."
"What are we trying to breed here? We want PMA to breed officers of the finest order. One day they will be generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and we will have hope. But they're still young, in-a-allow mo na mag-dagdag-bawas," he added. (Vote padding and shaving, a term that refers to the most common form of cheating in Philippine elections.)
An earlier Facebook post of the cadet's sister, Annavee, discussed the supposedly rigged voting that led to the decision. The Honor Committee is purely cadet matters but no punishment may be enforced unless the vote is unanimous.
"Nowhere in the system does it say that after voting, the committee can go on executive session and change the dissenting vote to guilty. This is the reason why it's secret balloting in the first place. It is to prevent peer pressure in voting. You are forcing the vote guilty and in doing so, you are placing the whole procedure of trial in question," Enrique wrote.
Enrique suggested the PMA create a "special honor committee" composed of former Honor Committee members from different generations to re-investigate Cudia's case.
"Review all the cases for 2013-2014 and recall all those cadets who were unnecessarily dismissed. You are playing with the lives of people and wasting taxpayer's money," he said.
The PMA has defended its decision, insisting that what Cudia did was not simply to come late in class.
"Cadet Cudia’s case is not an issue about being late in class. 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 Cdt Cudia violating the Honor Code which led to the opening of formal investigation by the Honor Committee," the PMA said in a previous statement. "As the breeding ground for future leaders of the AFP, PMA will continue to uphold the tenets of the Honor Code which have been emplaced for generations."
Ironically, the PMA has also produced graduates who got involved in corruption. Corrupt practices in the military have been repeatedly exposed, in particular "conversion," which allowed military officers to produce fake receipts in exchange for cold cash.
A retired major general, Carlos Garcia, is now in jail on charges he pocketed millions from soldiers' funds. (READ: Gen Garcia: How the big fish got away).
A former defense secretary, retired general Angelo Reyes, killed himself in 2011 following allegations he was given millions in retirement money. – Rappler.com
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