The Honor Code and the strange case of PMA cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia

The PMA’s Code of Conduct: Not something that can be applied to civilians

The PMA’s Code of Conduct: Not something that can be applied to civilians

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

Until but a few days ago, the Honor Code of the Cadet Corps, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was hardly bruited about outside the walls of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) since its existence decades and decades ago.

To many Filipinos, it is an unknown set of rules exclusively observed at the PMA, the Code of Ethics each cadet is bound to live by.

Dan Jimenez of Class ’77 declared: “The code is what each cadet is pledged to from the moment he enters the PMA; it is not about what one’s loved ones, friends and other supporters thoughts and feelings are. It is not about justice, nor fair play, nor reason.

“It is about the code that boldly states: ‘A cadet does not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do. It is about living by the code for four years within the academy’s walls. It is about agreeing to be judged by your peers and trusting their judgment which in effect will make you trust yours. It is not about the legality of the code.

“It is not legal as lawyers will have them. It is not about the AFP nor the Officer Corps, nor the PMA Administration, nor the Tactics Group. It is about the Cadet Corps, AFP.”

Aurelio Palmos, Class ’68, who served as editor of The Corps, the PMA’s official publication during his cadetship, was emphatic about the code itself. He said:

“It does not stop at the portals of our Alma Mater. It must be observed for life, whether in the military, civilian, government service, in business and professional pursuits and even in the realm of politics. We lived the code during our cadetship. We pray we will continue to do so.”

James Dullas, Class ’81, vigorously reiterated Jimenez’s statement. Dullas is president of the PMAAA Southern California.

Roderick Castro, Class’70, decried any and all ‘violations’ of the Honor Code that was theirs to uphold as cadets, and even after graduation, he had tremendous hopes the code would “continue to remain with them.”

“There is corps-wide acceptance of, and adherence to the code within that time period. If a cadet is found guilty by the Honor Committee, he is bound to ‘suffer the consequences,’ naming ‘ostracism’ as one of what that erring cadet would need to ‘undergo,’ as an outcome of his sentence.”

In recent months, it was widely reported that PMA Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia was “discharged for violating the Honor Code (and) is unlikely to be able to join the March 16th graduation ceremony.” He has filed a ‘second extension’ to allow him to submit an appeal, Lt. Colonel. Ramon Zagala, AFP spokesman, said.

He was found by the PMA Honor Committee to have “lied on why he was late for a class,” and asked for an extension of up to March 4. Later, he requested another 15-day extension: if approved, it will allow him to submit his appeal on March 19, three days after the scheduled graduation of Class 2014.

Zagala explained: “Cudia was given an opportunity to appeal his case, and this opportunity is not accorded to everybody. Usually, if you violate the Honor Code, you take it as a man and quietly leave. But in the interest of fairness and transparency, he was given this chance to explain himself.”

Likewise, Zagala stated he would still have to “check with the PMA if Cudia’s request for a second extension was granted.”

“All possible courtesies were extended to Cudia, but let us not forget that the objective of the review is not to appease public opinion, but to determine the truth — whether he is guilty or not of violating the Honor Code,” he said.

Flashback to an incident in mid-November 2013. Sparked by what was identified as a ‘late dismissal’ from a 3:00 p.m. English class, Cudia reportedly failed to respond to the first bell at 2:55 p.m. The cause, according to him, was that he asked Maria Monica Costales, his instructor, about deductions in a previous exam.

Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia.

Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia.

In military school, tardiness is a serious offense. Punishment may be waived if it is not the cadet’s fault.

Cudia was penalized: ‘11 demerits; 13 hours of touring.’

Reportedly, Cudia approached Major Denis Hindang, his tactical (TAC) officer to appeal the penalty. His TAC, it was further learned, talked to the instructor; found out that the aforementioned class dismissal was ‘on time.’ Cudia was advised to “appeal in writing.”

Said Cudia: “I strongly believe that I am not in control of the circumstances; our 4th period class ended 1500H, and the 5th period class, English 412 started at 1500. I went to the next class without any intention of being late.” That same TAC filed an honor report against Cudia on January 7, 2014.

“Lying, that is giving a statement that perverts the truth in his written appeal stating that his 4th period class ended at 1500H, made him late in the succeeding class,”

Enter the PMA Honor Code as defined by the institution itself: a culture that binds alumni together, and they are very protective of the code as evidenced by the statements of the PMA alumni above.

The PMA has refused to divulge details but maintained that the Honor Committee followed due process. Cudia was “declared guilty” of honor violation; expected to “resign honorably,” leave quietly like others before him who violated the code. Cudia decided to remain in the camp to fight his dismissal.

Fast forward to February 21. The Honor Committee ordered cadets to “ostracize” Cudia because of “various violations: exposing the academy’s supposedly confidential processes and smearing the name of PMA.” Two questions were asked of him in the course of allegedly violating the code: “Do you have the intention to deceive? Do you have the intention to take undue advantage?”

His response: “In the name of clarity, fairness and truth that my case be reopened and carefully reviewed for I did not violate the honor code/system, I can answer NO to both questions.”

Via the social media, a sister of Cudia expressed their family’s sentiments about the incident which was aired as “just two-minutes late,” their commentary fell on various versions of what readers felt the decision came down with more than just injustice.

More to learn from the Honor Code that the world outside its observance apparently do not have knowledge of: The Honor Code apparently defines the truth clearly as ‘unvarnished.’

Putting the blame for something on others or on circumstances that one cannot control is not allowed. Apparently, other cadets were also late for that English class by under two minutes, and did not explain away their tardiness as someone else’s who blamed it on the instructor’s fault.

The PMA’s Code of Conduct is not ‘something that can be applied to civilians.’

This author agrees with those PMA alumni who were formidable about their defense of the Honor Code: “It is not only how you start, but how you finish that counts!”



6 Comments

  1. noli mandanas wrote:

    cadet cudia has the following options:
    -mag NPA
    -mag MNLF
    -mag MILF
    -mag Abu Sayyaf
    he lied therefore dapat syang madismiss. kadete pa lang sya mahilig na syang magcircumvent ng batas, what more kung opisyal na sya. ang kapal pa ng mukha ng kapatid nyang magkalat sa social media.

    in fact, eto ang dapat maging code ng pma cadets and pma alumni:
    we the cadets (or officers, whichever is applicable) do not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate among us those who do. dapat pag naconvict of honor violation magresign within 24 hours, pag hindi nag-resign then he will be dismissed from the service.

    sa totoo lang pma cadets know nothing but idealism and porma. pagdating sa actual puro corrupt din naman. may mga kilala akong PMAer na yumaman dahil sa questionnable means. puro lang sila technicalities.

    sa totoo lang mahina ang honor committee ng PMA. eto ang dapat maging basis of acquittal or conviction of a cadet being tried for honor violation:

    the judges are composed of 9 cadets. if 1 judge renders a guilty verdict, then the cadet being tried is guilty. he/she must be unanimously voted not guilty para masabing inosente nga sya at dapat walang mag-abstain na judge. each judge or honor committe member must take a stand.

  2. The Cudia Case and the more severe others that so blatantly display the fruits of Satan’s deception at times lead people to feel there seems to be no end –no chance for moral regeneration. The interferernce by outsiders of a system internal to PMA cadets prove that ‘freedom’ in its truest sense is the unwillingness to be under the control of God –to do what one pleases–from which pleasures are more deserved. All is fair game — even those which by their nature are not supposed to be trusted. Knowing how Satan works, and how he controls and owns the world, we have to keep our heads above the water–and bring to the surface as many other souls that had been enslaved by the demon. Others call this the ‘extraction black ops.? Jumping into enemy-held territory to extract bound prisoners.
    Maam, you can use your writing talents and reputation to make things right — but it should be aimed squarely at the root cause — and the “right”should be God’s justice –not men’s. I had been delivering
    talks since late last year — whenever and wherever the Blessed Mother and Her Son tell me to go. Amy and I had seen evidence of Satanic influence and we are glad that people are beginning to b aware of it and to have recourse to Mother and Son and to rebuke and regret Satan. The Bible tells us Satan is running out of time — so he works harder.

  3. I appreciate the feedback of Aurelio Palmos. It is most timely in this day and age when there is tremendous
    need for moral regeneration. As Mr. Palmos indicates, ‘the interference of a system internal to the
    Philippine Military Academy proves that ‘freedom’ in its truest sense is the unwillingness to be under the control of God –to do what one pleases –from which pleasures are more deserved.

    As the power of the written word and communication would allow, most journalists strive to bring out the
    truth: that man cannot live without the One who transcends all of us in this world. We must always look
    aloft for Heavenly Guidance and fortitude.

  4. di pa kc mag-concede si cadet cudia,kawawa lang din siya in the future…kahit na sakali ma-forgive siya sa loob ng academy,paglabas niya at ma deploy sa field, markado na siya sa mga daratnan niyang upperclass niya..baka pag initan pa lalo…

  5. Jojo wrote:

    Friends, let us not bash the Honor Code that they have at the Academy, it is theirs alone and it has been there since the creation of the Academy. The Honor Code is not something evil, it is there to instill and inculcate integrity in the cadets. Honesty, honor, integrity can never have a gray area. It is either you lied or not, stolen or not, cheated or not and tolerated or not, nothing in between.

    It does not promote dysfunction because it shapes a culture of trust. It is not out of times because honesty/honor/integrity can never be outdated, it should linger on as a good value. It is not selective because it is applied to all cadets regardless of class, gender, age, intellect and social standing. You can even report your own classmates or seniors without fear of reprisal. Heck, they say you can even report yourself for violating the Honor Code.

    There may be a few alumni who strayed along the way. But let us not generalize all the academy alumni, NOT ALL of them are rotten and maligned. There are only a few bad eggs out of the whole basket. Let us not brand the whole basket as full of rotten eggs and throw caution to the wind.

    Lying, cheating, stealing and tolerating is a CHOICE. It is NOT taught at the Academy to do such things. On the contrary, it is heavily emphasized to the cadets to do the honorable thing.

    In my perspective, the Honor Code is a good thing. At least I know that the institution is doing SOMETHING to mold its sons and daughters who will someday lead our armed forces.

    Given facts (in various news reports):

    1) Cadet Cudia and 3 other cadets were late for their next class because they waited for their instructor.
    2) All of their other classmates WERE NOT late for this next class.
    3) As a result, they were given appropriate punishment (demerits and touring) which they (the 4 cadets) apparently complied.
    4) Cadet Cudia appealed this punishment (demerits and all) and said that it is not his fault because the class were dismissed late hence making it appear that it is the fault of the instructor in question.

    Did Cadet Cudia lied when he said that “they were dismissed late”?

    Those who said YES would say that he should have answered directly the question. He should have said that they (the 4 cadets) were made to wait by the instructor that is why they (the 4 cadets) were late for the next class.

    Those who said NO would say it is just semantics, why be so technical about it. The effect is still the same, they were late for the next class.

    The issue here again is if Cadet Cudia lied why he was late.

    So friends, just take your pick…

    • N.M. wrote:

      dapat madismiss si cudia for lying. “naacquit siya (8-1) hindi dahil inosente siya kundi dahil tanga din ang honor committee ng PMA. sa totoo lang, dapat madismiss si cudia at lahat ng honor committee members. pare-pareho lang silang pulpol.

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