What the case of PMA student Cudia says about Filipino society at large

cudia-300x413The case of dismissed Philippine Military Academy student Aldrin Cudia has lingered long enough among the chattering classes. When news of it first broke out, it seemed that Cudia was dismissed for being a few minutes late for a succeeding class. Eventually, it became known to the public that Cudia was found guilty of something else; a far more serious offense from the point of view of the PMA: he was found guilty of violating the honor code.

“We cadets do not lie, cheat, steal, nor do we tolerate those among us who do.”

What needs to be accepted is that, we outside of the PMA may never know all of the details of this case, and that the PMA is under no obligation to tell us.

I find what has happened in Filipino civilian society when this case became news quite amusing. With regards as to how this case has played out there, I think it says a lot about the society at large, and not just about the military as an institution.

First off, this case was brought to civilian society’s attention through social media by cadet Cudia’s sister. This led me to ask: why are there Filipinos who seem to think that settling grievances by garnering public sympathy and popular support noisily is the proper way to do so? Public opinion is not necessarily right, and as such, isn’t it better to settle things in a dignified manner, and with those who are actually well-versed in the applicable laws and institutions in question?

Filipinos were quick to judge PMA’ers and soldiers as “hypocrites” for not “sticking to their honor code” once they graduate. The cases of the “pabaon” generals and the Euro generals are often cited as example of soldiers who “violated the honor code”.

Why don’t we apply some sort of alternative thinking here?

Has anybody considered that perhaps it’s not the PMA per se that has a problem? There is one obvious, undeniable fact that Filipino civilian society seems to be ignoring:

Filipino society at large has no inherent honor code.

Not only do Filipinos lie, cheat, steal, and tolerate those who do so, they even encourage them. They even elect those who do into government positions.

The way of life within the academy is regimented – very controlled. Once a cadet steps outside those walls, however, it is a totally different story altogether. Imagine stepping into a world which is the very antithesis of what you were used to and made to believe during your academy years. While the military, ideally, shapes its personnel to conform to a standard of a good soldier, Filipino society, on the other hand, inculcates the “virtue” of getting ahead through dishonorable means.

The guiding principles in Filipino civilian society are rather simple. It’s every man for himself. Prepare for a forced compliance to a consensus of low standards of conduct and morality (pakikisama). If no one complains about you doing something illegal, immoral, or dangerous, then there’s no problem. If you don’t lie, cheat, or steal, not only will you not get ahead, you will most likely be ostracized by everyone else who tolerates and does it openly, especially if you work for government. Don’t these all sound familiar?

We use words like “honor”, “code”, “loyalty”. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

Colonel Nathan Jessup, A Few Good Men

Yes, it’s quite funny, indeed, how Filipinos can claim to use a word like honor, when honor is not really a strong part of Filipino tradition. It’s also quite funny how Filipinos can use words like code and loyalty, when they are notorious for having double standards and easily selling any sense of principle that they have for the right price.

In certain forums, there were Filipino civilians who tried to make an argument based on a phrase found in the current Constitution:

“Civilian authority is at all times supreme over the military,” with which they claim that Filipino civilian society is entitled to know all the details of the case. I call bullshit.

What that phrase actually refers to, is that whenever a civilian authority or government is established, the military follows orders the commander-in-chief. The role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is to protect the state, its sovereignty, and its national territory. While “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them”, to interpret that phrase as “civilians can demand anything they want from the military” is rather preposterous.

Filipinos, of course, are not really known for respecting institutions.

Now suddenly this case is going to be elevated to president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino? What does HE know about honor? BS Aquino is the poster boy for disregarding institutions. In fact, people should not forget how he had disrespected the military and had failed to insulate it from partisan politics when he unceremoniously called for recently deceased former AFP Chief of Staff General Delfin Bangit (ret.) to resign simply because he was an appointee of his predecessor and arch-enemy Gloria Arroyo.

Many people seem to overlook that one of the simplest and best ways to show honor is to keep one’s word consistently. Who can categorically say that Filipinos are collectively known for this?

BS Aquino’s alleged use of dishonorable means to get the Legislature and the Judiciary to get what he wants is well-documented in GRP and other web sites. Up until now, let us not forget that he has not fulfilled his campaign promise to pass the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI).

As it stands, it seems that cadet Cudia thinks he is an unfortunate victim of “personalan” when the guilty verdict was handed down. Not surprising that he has done so; Filipinos aren’t known to take unfavorable circumstances quietly and in a dignified manner. And now, reportedly the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have been brought in to intervene on the case. Aside from “honorable” BS Aquino. One thing that we need to consider is that it has to be proven that the PMA was either selective or inconsistent in applying its own rules. But if the complaint merely states the ruling was unfair because of a perceived “personalan”, then things look rather bleak for him.

Bottom line is: whether this whole case could have been settled quietly or not, the result was a big drama. An unnecessary one. Unfortunately, it is one that will leave Filipino civilian society with an even worse impression of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The PMA was just upholding its principles, and because Filipino civilian society does not agree with principles, and institutions, the pervading mood would seem to be for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to go eff themselves.

Which is not to say that I necessarily agree with everything the military does or is. The military seems to be an archaic institution that is slow to adapt to changing circumstances because of its top-heavy chain-of-command structure. But it is a necessary institution for a sovereign nation. They are charged with defending the state against all internal and external threats. It is imperative that the military, with the help of the civilian state, adapt the changes needed (technological, procedural, etc.), so that they can better fulfill their duties.

In this particular case, perhaps they can rethink how they can better inculcate the honor code into each and every cadet that passes through their hallowed walls.

Cadet Cudia’s case will soon be forgotten by the Filipino public, who have short tempers, shorter memories, and even shorter attention spans. The underlying implication to all this, however, is that somehow, Filipinos have to learn to uphold and improve institutions instead of merely complaining that they are unfortunate victims of what they perceive as unjust ones.

But first, they have to stop tolerating those among their own kind who lie, cheat, and steal. Without that, anything built upon a foundation of dishonor is sure to come crashing down.


About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

Post Author: FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

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46 Comments on "What the case of PMA student Cudia says about Filipino society at large"

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Typical pinoy, “kung makakalusot…”. And how they publicized the issue outside of the academy is so “unmilitary”. If anything, going to social media to meet your ends, in this sort of case, is just a bit “supot” and “walang bayag” for me.

Filipinos should get this, violate any law, rule, code, etc., you must pay the consequences period. No grey areas there.


[…] he tries to pass off this article – written by one of his circle, btw – as his proof of his claim. But since the talented […]


So the line goes.

“Pinoy ka nga, buo ang iyong loob, may topak naman ang tuktok.”


ungasmopre bok clear as crystal na quibbling si Cadet Cumag

justine dreco
The PMA has their HONOR CODE, the PNPA has their HORROR CODE. I once asked, how come so many bad eggs make it through the PNPA. This was at a comments section of a news article about the heroism of one recently graduated PMAer who got shot while stepping up to defend another from a hold up. This was in sharp contrast to news that time about the spate of “hulidap” by mga bagitong police. Someone took the time to answer, summary of which was that at the PMA, they are brought to respect an honor code. While in the… Read more »

I will rather resign with honor, swallow my pride and start over, than to lose respect of every military at my side.. It is all about ACCEPTANCE for CDT CUDIA!! Find provisions and pray for your call because definitely, these things happen for a reason..

Hyden Toro

Those who judged Cadet Cudia, is making an example of him. Military Academies don’t produce honorable people. Look at: Ramos, Honasan, Trillanes, etc…they all lied, stole from the people; and cheated us all. All were political opportunists, who got rich with peoples’ money…

Sorry na lang, Cadet Cudia. You were in the wrong time, place and situation…

While I understand and actually support the essential idea of the writer, she missed some details concerning Cadet Cudia’s case: 1. Cudia was charged with lying by his fellow cadets for claiming that he was held up by an instructor for a classroom related concern and, thereby, 10 minutes late for his next class. 2. Said instructor, to my knowledge, confirmed Cudia’s story. The committee, composed entirely of PMA cadets disregarded this piece of information. 3. The initial session of the committee did not have a unanimous decision to “dishonorably discharge” Cudia. A second committee had to be convened to… Read more »

The PMA must also have a code of dishonor once graduated, accompanied by a code of silence.
These are not fighting soldiers but thieving bureaucrats focussed on kickbacks and narcissists who enjoy dressing up and playing toy soldiers. Money not honor, self-interest not service are their diktats.
Too involved in politics and only fighting for bigger budgets.
Another source of shame for the philippines.
It’s hardly Westpoint or Sandhurst, but boy scouts and girl guides.

ako lang

wag natin sisihin ang mga pinoy kc sa isang pahina parang sinasabi ng author na kasalanan ng mga pinoy ung sa paghalal ng pulitiko which in fact malayo sa pinag-uusapan na tungkol sa kadete. wag sana nyang ilihis ung usapan at wag ipasa ang pagkakamali dyan sa PMA.

Red Owl

There was a RADM in the Navy with initials of JYT ‘ PMA 71 who was so corrupt that he even used his own men for the construction of his house.


Who did not lie inside the campus during their stay for four years? I doubt if PMA can still produce graduates.

vladimir paelmo
Even heaven failed to produce good angels. to the few good men in the AFP and PNP..I SALUTE YOU FOR LIVING UP TO YOUR CONVICTION..Col Capa sir congrats. Behind the person Cadet Cudia is his dream to become one of the few good men in the military.what if after all of these noise at PMA. Cudia will make a name for himself in other military schools outside of the country? im sure Cadet Cudia will never stop in fulfilling his seemingly unfulfilled dreams at PMA. Gagawa at gagawa ng paraan yan. Kung mangyari ito, it willnotvendicate cudia but put our… Read more »
juan posong

These people who still think that the taxpayers who pay their stay in PMA and PNPA still think that these bunch of psychologically unstable people have the reputaion are really sick and living in a dreamland. Maybe you do some survey, A REAL ONE, so that you will know that even some of your families and relatives are grossly disgusted by how you live and serve. LITSING YAWA MO!

juan posong

Just look through history how these PMA’rs and PNPA’rs serve. Pa-Bok Bok pah kung ano ang nagawa sa bayan. pfftttt


[…] civil society, as I mentioned in my previous article, has no inherent honor code. Among its members are those who openly and brazenly lie, cheat, steal, […]

Fortunato T. Lumawan

Even if Aldrin Cudia cannot be allowed to graduate from PMA still the sickness of the Filipino people remained. It’s ironical!


Hindi ba part ng bullying ang ginawa kay Cuida… Tsaka Edukasyon ang mawawala sa tao.. 4yrs nag aral… Yung kapatid na nag post eh sa sama ng loob yun kaya nag post…. I dont know what is happening inside the PMA, and i dont want to know.. Pero sana patawan pinag graduate nyu padin yung tao. at binaba ang ranko or itapon sa spratly (ex).. kasi may pamilya din yan na balak tulungan..Robbing someones education 4years pa…. Hope for the best….


Ironically for a culture that emphasizes “hiya” (shame), its people are actually “walang hiya.” (shameless) XD