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Lacson says PMA cadet’s behavior is unheard of

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 07:28 PM February 22, 2014

Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Philippine Military Academy Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia’s act of challenging the decision of fellow cadets who found him guilty of violating their honor code was unheard of, according to Panfilo Lacson, a member of PMA Class of 1971.

“This is unprecedented. This is the first time I have heard of a cadet who resisted the decision of the honor committee,” said Lacson, President Benigno Aquino’s assistant for rehabilitation and recovery.

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“One cannot challenge the decision of the honor committee. We consider it infallible, rightly or wrongly. It cannot make mistakes because it is a committee of peers and the ones chosen to be in the committee are [cadets] who have the highest respect of their fellow cadets,” Lacson said in a telephone interview.

Those who are tried by the honor committee are “ostracized” by the entire cadet corps “until they are pressured to resign,” he said.

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“Because you will be all alone, no one will deal with you. You will be treated like you don’t exist. Even the plebes won’t salute you or call you ‘Sir’ because you had violated a time-honored tradition. (Cudia’s) is a unique case where a cadet has been tried, found guilty, and he is now fighting the decision,” Lacson said.

Cudia was subjected to trial by the honor committee for allegedly lying about why he was late for class.

Cudia was set to graduate salutatorian of the “Siklab Diwa” Class of 2014 and receive the Philippine Navy saber as the top cadet to join the naval force.

AFP Chief General Emmanuel Bautista (PMA Class 1981) has ordered a review and reinvestigation of Cudia’s case.

Lacson’s comment was sought because only a week ago he was the keynote speaker at the PMA homecoming where the central theme of his speech was the sanctity of the honor code.

Only four days after Lacson exhorted the PMA alumni to live up to the honor code beyond the grounds of the PMA, the controversy involving Cudia erupted and the corruption issues that hounded the Armed Forces of the Philippines all came back.

On Friday, a number of PMA alumni began using their cadet photos as their Facebook profile pictures to show support for their alma mater, the honor code and the honor system that they follow at the academy.

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An attack on the honor code and the honor system “shakes the very foundation of the long gray line,” said an Army captain who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Many feel that the whole issue now is an assault on the PMA and the honor code,” the junior officer said.

The phrase “the long gray line” is used to describe, as a continuum, all graduates and cadets of the US Military Academy at West Point.

The PMA, which was modeled after West Point and established with the help of the Americans, has adopted the usage. Its cadets also wear white and gray uniforms similar to West Point’s.

“Hopefully, it (the PMA) comes out stronger after all of these have passed,” Bautista said.

Lacson does not agree that the Cudia controversy that has focused the spotlight on erring PMA alumni has shaken the long gray line.

“There were those who had fallen out of the line but many are still staying in the line,” he said.

Alumni of the PMA and the Officers Candidate School (OCS), which upholds the same honor code and system, said it would be difficult for non-cadets to understand the tradition followed by the cadets.

“The honor code is inculcated in us since Day 1. At least in the four years of our cadetship, there is no compromise. When we graduate, then there are issues here and there but we are expected to retain the core values,” Lacson said.

The honor committee usually convenes in the dead of night to try a cadet because it is a secret proceeding.

Lacson said that as far as he knows, there is not even a transcript of the proceedings to emphasize its secrecy.

An OCS alumnus told the Inquirer that during a trial, the honor committee members are dressed in their study uniforms, which consists of gray pants, tie and sweater.

But the one on trial is in full dress uniform, “because it is the last time that he or she might wear it,” the official said.

A cadet who has been found guilty of violating the honor code quietly leaves the academy grounds.

But not Cudia, apparently.

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TAGS: Aldrin Jeff Cudia, honor code, Military, Panfilo Lacson, Philippine Military Academy, PMA
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