MANILA, Philippines - It has come this far. The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Honor Committee ordered Friday night, February 21, the "ostracism" of cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia.
This was confirmed by PMA spokesperson Major Lynette Flores. "The order to ostracize is not from the PMA command. It is internal to the Cadet Corps. It is an act of the cadets," Flores explained.
The order was issued on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the EDSA civilian-backed military revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship. The seeds of that revolt were planted at the PMA.
Among Cudia's offenses under Special Orders No. 01 are breaching confidentiality by putting documents in the social media, violating the PMA Honor Code, lacking the initiative to resign, and smearing the name of the PMA.
"The cadets have their own way of really expressing this belief. Their sacred vow were violated. Hindi nagpapigil si Cadet Cudia. He disregarded the sacredness of the system," said Flores.
The Honor Committee, composed of at least 32 PMA cadets, issued the order to ostracize Cudia despite the decision of Armed Forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista to re-investigate his case.
Cudia, who is supposed to graduate with honors in March, was placed on indefinite leave while the re-investigation is conducted.
The committee's order also came after Cudia filed a counter-complaint against 9 of its members who decided that he violated the code and should be removed from the academy. (READ: PMA cadet fights back)
The code states that cadets "do not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those among them who do so." (READ: 2 minutes late for class, PMA cadet dismissed?)
"His status was also being considered but he has pushed the corps to this point," said Flores.
Mom barred from visiting Cudia
Ostracism is a punishment where cadets make one feel that he's not welcome.
How does one get ostracized in the academy?
It's tough, recalled one PMA graduate. "Aso ang trato sa iyo," he said. (You're treated like a dog.) You eat alone in the mess hall. They vandalize your room and your uniform. They kick you around. They don't talk to you.
Flores however stressed this does not happen anymore.
"If they agreed na walang papansinin sa kaniya, walang kakausap sa kaniya...Ipaparamdam sa kaniya na hindi siya tanggap," she explained. (No one will talk to him. They can make him feel he does not belong.)
Cudia has been in a holding center inside Fort Del Pilar in Baguio City for about a month now. He refuses to resign and leave the camp pending a final decision on his case. (READ: PMA cadet fights back)
PMA alumnus and 1983 graduate Dado Enrique said that on Friday, Cudia's mother was not allowed to see him inside the camp. His sister was previously allowed visitation hours.
The proceedings of the Honor Committee are confidential but Cudia's family posted Facebook posts that exposed the "trivial matter" that caused his dismissal. He was merely 2 minutes late for class, they said.
The Facebook posts divided the PMA alumni. Some were sympathetic, while others believe this should have been handled internally.
While the PMA refused to explain how Cudia violated the code, academy insiders maintained the story is "deeper."
Cudia and his family intend to fight it out.
"Cudia will stick it out. He will stand by his conviction that he is not guilty and is just a victim of mistrial," Enrique, a former baron of Class 1983, told Rappler in an SMS message. (READ: PMA cadet fights back, gets support)
PMA cadets and alumni are very protective of their Honor Code. On Friday, they flooded Facebook with their cadet photos to show their support for the code. (READ: Viral: PMA alumni post cadet photos on Facebook)
The Philippine military has played a crucial role in the country's two political transitions. Twice, the military led popularly-backed revolts that ousted two presidents: Ferdinand Marcos (1986) and Joseph Estrada (2001).
It has also produced graduates who got involved in corruption and human rights abuses, prompting various studies into how practices in the PMA might have influenced how soldiers behave – or misbehave – in the field.— Rappler.com