Cadet Cudia has what it takes to be a loyal, honorable soldier of the people
By Dionesio Grava
First Posted in ireport.cnn.com
The grossly underhanded manner authorities and the cadet body of the Philippine Military Academy regarding l’affaire Cudia is symptomatic of the arrogance and contempt those in the military hierarchy perceive the civilian populace. Spawned by the unmitigated licentiousness and profligacy of the Marcos dictatorship, many of those in the uniformed services had gone berserk with whatever pretensions of honorable moorings and had turned their greed and cruelty on the unarmed people who were responsible for shouldering their livelihoods and upkeep in the first place. It has been years now since the dictatorship was dealt a death blow by an aroused citizenry but has all its evil vestiges been wiped off as well?
The number of high-ranking big-time scalawags produced by the foremost military school in our country put into perspective its much ballyhooed Honor Code of cadets that “one must not lie, cheat and steal nor tolerate among them those who do.” While outwardly perceived as laudable, it is now alleged that the same code has been used many times in the past to persecute cadets who may have the misfortune of crossing paths with upperclassmen and/or some officers.
In the case of cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia, his alleged fault was in being outspoken and exceptional such that an instructor was even reported to have asked him to help explain to classmates how some things in class were to be accomplished. It is said that three times he was hailed before the Honor Committee and in the first two, the accusations were proven false. In the last one — making a mountain out of an unproven accusation of two-minute tardiness — those who may have engineered the caper have to get him by hook or by crook because graduation was coming up fast. Who knows whose general’s favorite has to be accommodated in the top ten rankings with Cudia gone or for whatever reason.
The higher-ups cannot wash their hands off this mess. In the first place, why put in line the future of cadets whose schooling is supported by millions of pesos of taxpayers money according to the whims and discretions of typically swell-headed juvenile frames of mind without any form of accountability. Imagine, a group of cadets able to decide the expulsion of fellow cadets and school officials going along without some kind of scrutiny whether the process is fair or just or legal?
Although Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, armed forces chief of staff, had taken the unprecedented step of ordering a review of the case following public outcry, critics consider it as just a grand show signifying nothing. For one, the supposed re-investigation was spearheaded by Maj. Gen. Oscar Lopez who as PMA superintendent certainly has overwhelming interest to buttress the academy’s earlier recommendation to higher headquarters for Cudia’s separation from military service. And even before they could start, Major Agnes Lynette Flores, PMA spokesperson, and Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief, were already justifying the penalties imposed on Cadet Cudia.
The spokespersons were also explicit in assuring the public that actually Cudia had two options: either to resign or stay and be humiliated. Cudia opted to stay but not only has the academy and cadet hierarchies subjected him to ostracization, his separation from the service was also announced. Joining in the fun, Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said Sunday that General Bautista met with Cudia on Feb. 24 and that Cudia was given until March 19 to submit a position paper on his dismissal for the alleged violating. The following day, March 10, PMA officials presented the cadets who constitute the Top 10 of the graduating class. Cudia’s place as salutatorian had been filled in by another cadet. A so-called appeals board has lived up to its acronym: CRAB. It announced that the re-investigation was done and that they found nothing irregular during Cudia’s kangaroo court hearing — even before the cadet could submit the required position paper.
But now Navy Commander Junjie Tabuada has come out with a sworn statement that indeed, as Cudia has insisted all along, the result of the Honor Committee was not unanimous, which was needed to justify a guilty verdict according to their rules. One Cadet Lagura, a member of the powerful student committee, allegedly disclosed to Tabuada that the former voted “not guilty” for Cudia but that he was pressured to change his vote inside a secret room by the other Honor Committee members led by its chairman.
No doubt Cudia would find better prospects outside of the military if he wants to. In fact it would be a sound decision considering the alleged mafia mentality of those in uniform who are seen to close rank each time their “omerta” enclave is being threatened by disclosure. Who knows if Cudia would ever see advancement if he decides to remain or even be sent by some revengeful general to the frontline of whatever armed conflict there may be. Obviously, an exit at this time would be prudent. But Cudia is not just anyone. He has the guts to stand for what he believes is right, something many of his peers and even those in active service are devoid of: a true sense of duty, integrity, honor. – Dionesio C. Grava
Photo is from Avee Cudia’s Facebook showing the Cudia family.