VIDEO: CHR probes PMA cadet dismissal, examines honor system

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The CHR will now see if there’s a need to review the academy’s Honor System following the dismissal of Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia

CHR PROBE: CHR chair Loretta Rosales says it is important to review the PMA Honor System. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – Six days before the Philippine Military Academy graduation on March 16, the chances that dismissed Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia will march with his classmates are now slim.

But whatever happens to his case, the Commission on Human Rights will now see if there’s a need to review the academy’s Honor System.
This exclusive report from Carmela Fonbuena.

LORETTA ROSALES, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: I am just as shocked as everybody else that a salutatorian, a bright boy, should not be allowed to graduate because he lied. When you look into the lie, I think it was just that he may not have been able to explain himself as accurately as he should have. My goodness, are you going to sacrifice his ranking as salutatorian – which is important to him whether he continues in the military or whether he continues outside later on?

The Commission on Human Rights intervenes in the case of dismissed PMA Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia. The commission wants to know if the cadet’s right to be heard, to due process, and right to education were violated when the Honor Committee ­declared him guilty of lying.
The Honor Committee is composed entirely of PMA students.

LORETTA ROSALES, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: When he said that the class was dismissed late that wasn’t exactly accurate. The class was not really dismissed late. it was dismissed really on time. but they were asked to stay longer. I guess it was a question of precision and accuracy.

The PMA Honor Code implores cadets not to lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those among them who do so. Cudia was expected to resign honorably but he decides to fight back.

He alienates cadets and alumni who are very protective of the code. The Facebook posts of his family go viral, giving the public a rare glimpse into the academy. Cudia and his family divulge details of what they call a mistrial. The academy is tightlipped and maintains the process is confidential.

The public outcry prompts the Chief of Staff to order a re-investigation. But the graduation is on Sunday, March 16, and the PMA has yet to release the results. Even if the decision favors Cudia, he has no time to complete the academic requirements that will allow him to graduate with his classmates.

CHR chairman Loretta Rosales says she wants to review the academy’s honor system to see if there is a need to reform it. She raises questions about the confidentiality of the investigation.

LORETTA ROSALES, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: You can only know if something is correct if there is a check and balance. When you talk about the integrity of the process, we are talking about transparency. Hindi mo dapat itinatago ‘yan. Otherwise, kulto ang labas mo diyan. (You shouldn’t keep it under wraps. Otherwise, you’re no different from a cult.)

She says it is the best time to review the honor system as the Armed Forces vows to clean up its record of human rights violations.

LORETTA ROSALES, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: The PMA is the one that molds the consciousness and the mindset of the future military officers. They are vital. They are crucial. What they learned in the academy will guide their behavior when they are no longer with the PMA.

Rosales appeals for the PMA’s cooperation.

In 2012 the military signed an agreement to inculcate respect of human rights and international humanitarian law in its systems. The cadet’s case is going to be a test of that commitment.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Manila –

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