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PMA alumnus pleads for end to academy bashing

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PMA alumnus pleads for end to academy bashing

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 07:33 AM March 21, 2014

Photo by Kristine Sabillo

MANILA, Philippines—Philippine Military Academy (PMA) alumni continue to defend the institution’s honor system amid the controversy over the recent case of dismissed cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia and despite repeated allegations of corruption in the Armed Forces involving military officers who are products of the military academy.

An 87-year-old retired general on Thursday appealed to the public to help strengthen the PMA’s “internal systems” after the Cudia controversy placed the school’s honor system under scrutiny.

“May I appeal to the entire Filipino people to remember that the Philippine Military Academy is your institution. It is the primary source of professional military leaders who are sworn to lead and sacrifice their lives, if need be, to protect our country and people against all threats, including to respond to natural calamities and disasters,” retired Brig. Gen. Jesus Dizon wrote in a letter disseminated by the AFP Public Affairs Office.

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“Please don’t tamper with its honor system … If the honor system is destroyed, the PMA might as well be closed,” he said.

Dizon is a member of PMA Class 1951, the first post-war class of the academy. He is a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Cudia was supposed to graduate on March 16 with the Siklab Diwa Class of 2014 but was dismissed after the honor committee, comprised of fellow cadets, found him guilty of lying about why he was late for class in November last year.

Cudia fought the committee’s decision that led to a meeting with President Aquino, who is the military Commander in Chief, the day before the PMA graduation ceremonies.

Aquino did not allow Cudia to graduate because he failed to complete his academic requirements, but gave him a chance to appeal his case.

System needs updating

While standing by the honor system, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin (PMA Class ’68) has said that it also needs updating to be attuned to the times, notably the need to adhere to the principle of human rights.

The Cudia controversy has raised criticisms against the honor system. Questions have been raised about why and how, despite the honor system, a number of PMA alumni have found themselves embroiled in cases that are clear violations of the Honor Code, under which cadets vow “not to lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who do.”

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The most recent corruption controversy involved the “pasalubong” and “pabaon” allegations in 2011 against AFP chiefs of staff, including the late Angelo Reyes (PMA ’66); Diomedio Villanueva (PMA ’68); Roy Cimatu (PMA ’70); and Efren Abu (PMA ’72) and other high-ranking military officers, some of whom have since retired.

Reyes killed himself at the height of the Senate investigation into the accusation made against him and the other generals by former AFP budget officer, retired Col. George Rabusa (PMA ’81) who linked them to the misuse of military funds.

The Office of the Ombudsman later dismissed Rabusa’s plunder complaint against the generals for lack of probable cause.

Retired Brig. Gen. Carlos Garcia (PMA ’71), a former military comptroller, was charged with plunder for accumulating millions of pesos in unexplained wealth. He escaped the plunder charges by entering into a plea bargain with the government but remains in detention, serving out his conviction by a military court martial.

Other PMA alumni, as well as graduates of the Officer Candidate School which follows the same honor system, said it still depended on the individual soldier how well he or she could fight the temptation to lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do in the “outside world.”

Dizon said he was “disturbed and hurt by the continued bashing of the PMA for the decision of the PMA honor committee to recommend the dismissal of Mr. Cudia for violation of the cadet Honor Code.”

“Violation of the code has only two consequences: Either dismissal or resignation from the academy.  For many people, the punishment might seem harsh but that is how the code has prevailed since the first pre-war class of the academy,” he said.

He said it was understandable that people outside the academy would tend to sympathize with Cudia, but in the process they would “discredit if not destroy the institution.”

“Mr. Cudia could probably win his case in a court of justice, but what does he gain? He will most likely be ostracized by the entire PMA alumni, including his peers and superiors on active military duty. Even a man of steel cannot last in this environment of rejection,” Dizon said.

But it is not the end of the world for Cudia, he said. If Cudia is determined to serve in the military, he could do so by applying for a commission in the reserve force.

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TAGS: honor system, Jesus Dizon, Philippine Military Academy (PMA), PMA alumnus
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