Cudia asks SC anew to reverse suspended graduation

MANILA, Philippines – Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia is not about to give up his fight.

On Tuesday, March 25, Cudia's mother filed a petition on his behalf asking the Supreme Court (SC) anew to annul and set aside "the decisions of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Honor Committee, the PMA Cadet Review and Appeals Board and the PMA" finding Cudia "guilty of violating the Honor Code and dismissing him from the Academy."

The cadet was dismissed from the military academy for supposedly lying about the "explanation" for his tardiness.

In the petition filed Monday, intervenor-petitioner Filipina Cudia asked the "PMA to restore Cadet Cudia’s rights and entitlements as a full-fledged graduating cadet, including his diploma and awards." (READ: Fight not over: Jeff Cudia faces media)

While Cudia's parents earlier said they would be happy with the mere granting of their son's diploma for employment purposes, the Tuesday petition prayed for the reversal of the guilty charge against the cadet by the Honor Committee.

Cudia's mother said the trial on her son's dismissal is a "sham," citing the real voting result of 8-1.

Attached to her petition was an affidavit from one Commander Junjie Tabuada, saying he heard of the pressures faced by the Honor Committee member who voted against Cudia's dismissal.

"Compounding his persecution, Cadet Cudia was given nothing but a sham trial. The affidavit of Commander Junjie Tabuada is enlightening. He recalled Cadet First Class Lagura stating, 'Chinamber ako sir, bale pinapa-justify kung bakit NOT GUILTY vote ko, at na-pressure din ako sir kaya binago ko, sir.' (I was sent to the chamber and was asked to justify why my vote was NOT GUILTY and I was pressured so I changed my vote, Sir.)"

The admission of Lagura, said Cudia's mother, is "vital information which could shed light to the case of Cadet Cudia."

A sworn statement directly from the said cadet cannot be obtained, the petition said, as the order to ostracize him if he spoke of the incident was in place.

"Cadet Cudia cannot access or approach the cadets who were present during his trial and who witnessed the said 8-1 voting result as they are subject to the same order to ostracize," the petition read.

"This practice of penalizing cadets who violate the order to ostracize is extremely unfair and runs afoul with the basic tenets of due process, which certainly is the bedrock of the trial of Cadet Cudia even when done under the auspices of a closed organization like the Corps of Cadets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," it further read.

Earlier SC order

The SC 3rd Division on March 19 deferred action on Cudia's initial plea before the High Court to graduate from the academy. 

Cudia's family said he was expecting to graduate as salutatorian of his class and at the top of his Navy class.

The PMA Honor Committe said Cudia lied when he claimed he was "dismissed a little bit late" in a previous class when asked to explain why he was 2 minutes late for his 3 pm English class (ENG 412) on Nov 14, 2013.

The Honor Committee is a powerful group in the PMA composed entirely of students. The committee probes and rules on reports of alleged violations of the PMA Honor Code, which orders cadets not to lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those among them who do.

Major Agnes Lynette Flores, PMA public affairs office chief, earlier said in an interview with radio station dzBB that Cudia was accused of committing two other violations – both involving alleged cheating – in his final year in PMA.

On March 14, prior to the PMA graduation rites, the Commission on Human Rights released a report recommending that Cudia be allowed to graduate with his classmates.

On the evening of Saturday, March 15, Cudia and his family tried but failed to convince President Benigno Aquino III and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to allow him to graduate this year. The meeting lasted for two-and-a-half hours.

Cudia's appeal before the President, however, has led the AFP leadership to order a review of the PMA's honor system. – Rappler.com