Cadet Cudia classmates: Public should accept decision of military leadership
FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City, Philippines—The top two graduates of “Siklab Diwa” Class of 2014 on Saturday said the public should support the decision of the military leadership, and ultimately, of President Benigno Aquino III on the fate of their classmate, Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia.
Cudia, who has been fighting his dismissal, should accept and respect whatever decision is made, they said.
“All I can tell Cadet Cudia is, he knows what is happening. Whatever decision the leadership makes, he should accept it wholeheartedly. His family and the Filipinos supporting him should accept it,” class valedictorian Cadet First Class Jheorge Llona told reporters in an interview.
Llona said no one forced any of them to join the military, wherein they bind themselves to its rules and regulations.
Cudia’s classmates are well aware of the support he has been able to generate among the public, especially netizens, who believe that the aspiring Navy officer should be given a second chance for the “small lie” he made on why he was late for class in November.
“Maybe in their minds that was just a small lie but the PMA wants to mold leaders. Whether a lie is big or small, it is still a lie,” said class salutatorian Cadet First Class Liza Dango.
(The PMA had belatedly corrected the claim of Cudia’s family that he was the supposed salutatorian. The school said Cudia’s grades actually qualified him for the third spot.)
Both Llona and Dango expressed support for the Honor Code and the honor system being followed by the cadet corps.
Understands civilian support
“We have an honor system and the Honor Code. We support it. We believe in it. We stand by whatever we say and whatever our faults. In case we commit an offense against the Honor Code, we will accept the punishment,” Llona said.
Llona said he understood the civilians showing support for Cudia.
“They don’t have so much idea about the honor system and the Honor Code. That’s why they are taking pity on Cudia, that’s why they had made such comments,” Llona said.
Llona said their class continues to be united despite the criticisms against them and the academy.
Cudia, he said, remains part of their class. “We are saddened by what has happened but we have regulations to follow,” he said.
And it appears that resigning from the cadet corps is still not an option for Cudia.
Members of the Philippine Military Academy Corps of Cadets, from the incoming senior cadets to their juniors, have been watching the story of Cudia unfold, top academy officials said here yesterday.
Col. Rozzano Briguez, PMA commandant of cadets, said the cadets have been anxious about the scandal generated by social media, after Cudia’s sister, Annavee, disclosed her brother’s fight to graduate today.
Briguez described his job as “the second father of all cadets,” whose chief task is to see to their physical, mental and emotional well-being.
He said the PMA had been advising young cadets to ignore the attacks on the academy’s ethics and virtues, which were launched in sympathy for Cudia.
Briguez said the cadets have been monitoring the events to see how it would be resolved because it affects the very foundation of their ideals. All cadets, however, take the Honor Code pledge: “We, the cadets, do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate among us those who do so.”
But the PMA is also reviewing the process taken by cadets to enforce the Honor Code, Briguez told the Inquirer.
Lawyer in hearings
For example, the PMA is considering adopting a process that would require cadets put on honor report (a complaint for violating the Honor Code) to have a lawyer during the hearings, Briguez said.
“We will discuss it with the cadets themselves. The honor system may not be perfect… but it is not static, it is dynamic,” Briguez said.
He said the cadets had also learned to ignore the issue and proceed with their tasks.
On Saturday, the junior cadets had fun by pulling out members of Siklab Diwa from their barracks to be dunked into the PMA pool, an annual tradition.
But a day before graduation, Cudia’s fight remained the biggest story among parents and cadets alike.
Teotimo Bacsarsa, a Cebu resident and father of Cadet First Class Carlo Niño Bacsarsa, said he understands that cadets value their Honor Code.
Cadet Bacsarsa received the Mathematics Award in a ceremony attended by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
Alexander Balungaya of Cagayan said his son, Cadet First Class Alexander Balungaya Jr., was once turned back so he appreciates the hardships of a PMA training.
He said Cudia will not simply abandon all that he went through without preserving his dignity.
The parents of Cadet First Class Billy Codiam of Kalinga agreed.
Codiam is the third ranking cadet of Siklab Diwa, but his parents, Marciano and Ida, were worried by reports about Cudia last week when they mistook the beleaguered cadet to be their son because their surnames sounded alike.
“Our community informed us about the expulsion and we were afraid. So we phoned Billy and he told us that it was a mistake, that he was fine,” Marciano said.
Sunday’s graduation will have many highlights, including the march of the first female “goat” (or the lowest ranking cadet of the graduating class) since the first batch of women graduated from the academy in 1997.
The Philippine Information Agency Cordillera regional office announced on Saturday that Cadet First Class Ernalyn Fernando will graduate at the bottom of the 223-member Siklab Diwa class. The PMA celebrates the “goat” for fighting all odds in order to graduate. With a report from Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon