Cudia not allowed to join PMA graduation march
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino did not allow dismissed Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet Jeff Aldrin Cudia to graduate with his “Siklab Diwa” class on Sunday, but gave him the option to appeal his case.
“We made sure that they were given the opportunity to air their side, at the end of which we recommended that they formalize their appeal, requests and other concerns in writing,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said late Saturday night.
Cudia remained in the PMA holding center while the graduation rites of his classmates were taking place.
Gazmin said the Cudia family had asked to meet with Mr. Aquino. He said the President acceded to the request because “he wanted to listen to both parties so that he can weigh all the issues.”
The Cudia family wanted Aldrin “to be able to join the graduation but the appeals board didn’t allow him because his requirements are incomplete,” Gazmin said.
The President and Gazmin met with Cudia, his parents and sister Anavee for three hours at the presidential Mansion here, a well-placed source told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
It would have been a cordial meeting if not for Cudia’s sister who kept on interjecting while the President spoke to the ex-cadet. “I’m not talking to you,” an irritated Mr. Aquino told Anavee in Filipino, the source said.
The source cited instances when Anavee looked at the President sharply (“inirapan”).
Cudia’s parents, on the other hand, “were very nice,” the source said, adding that all Cudia’s mother asked the President was for her son to be given his diploma.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer also learned that the President met with PMA officials before and after talking with the Cudia family.
On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Aquino met with Cudia’s classmates, newly minted second lieutenants and ensigns for snacks and a dialogue. The President makes it a point to meet with the new officers following the PMA graduation rites.
Sixteen members of the Siklab Diwa class were able to ask him questions that ranged from the Cudia controversy to the Commander in Chief’s love life.
The AFP Chief of Staff, General Emmanuel Bautista, will handle a reinvestigation of Cudia’s case should the ex-cadet decide to follow the President’s advice.
Gazmin said the President had directed the PMA Superintendent, Maj Gen. Oscar Lopez, to form a technical working group to look into possible reforms in the honor system.
The system might need to be updated as times have changed, he said.
“During our time, there was no International Human Rights Law. So (to our minds), we were not violating any human rights (in the honor system). These are new (concepts), so we now have to study (the system),” said Gazmin of the PMA Class ’68.
Cudia was convicted by fellow cadets, who comprised the honor committee, of lying for being late for class for two minutes last November.
Lying is a violation of the honor code, which states cadets “do not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who do.”
The spirit of the honor system also includes the questions “Did I intend to deceive?” and “Did I intend to take undue advantage?” Saying no to both questions means there is no violation of the honor code.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesperson, described the code “as a commitment among cadets of the PMA that defines the desirable values they must possess to remain part of the cadet corps. Basically, it develops the atmosphere of trust, sincerity and truthfulness among the cadets.”
“Meanwhile, the Spirit of the Honor Code enables the cadets to absorb the code as a set of basic and fundamental ethical and moral principles, and not just a long list of prohibited acts they could memorize. It is this absorption that allows the cadets to identify and assess misconduct beyond technical and legal procedures.
“This spirit gives the cadets integrity to do the right thing even though no one is looking, as well as to develop them to become trustworthy leaders.”
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