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.

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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.

46 Replies to “What the case of PMA student Cudia says about Filipino society at large”

  1. 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.

      1. Bok, kung ang basehan mo lang ay yung mga nababasa mo a internet, kulang pa ang alam mo, bok.

        Bago pa nila inilathala ang kaso ni Cudia sa publiko, may desisyon na ang academy. Dala ng media attention kung bakit may reconsideration.

        Bok bokin mo mukha mo.

  2. 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 PNPA, early on in their course, they already have to cope up with the corrupt practices within their academy.

    That time, I failed to grasp, nor believe, how “deep” that honor code meant to PMA.

    Now, how to teach the common pinoy – the uneducated masa loitering our streets everyday about honor?

    1. PMAer ka cgurado.. is this how you were brought up in the PMA??? di mo kelangan i-divert ung issue sa pamamagitan ng pagsira at pagbanat sa ibang academy like PNPA.. you only showed na wala kang class.. pinagyayabang pa na HONOR CODE sa kanila at HORROR CODE sa PNPA.. HONOR CODE nyo nga mismo mga HONOR CODE members pa nag-violate.. why change the vote from 8-1 ba yon or 9-1 to unanimous??? and not putting it in the minutes of the meeting pa? isn’t this clearly lying or cheating??? where is your HONOR in this??? ito cguro anG HORROR CODE.. hahaha

        1. ikaw alam mo? san mo nalaman? sa mga nababasa mo lang sa internet? stupid..
          oo ako alam ko. galing ako dun! angas ka!

  3. 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..

  4. 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…

    1. You only mentioned 3 guys, does “etc” cover the rest? How about those who did well in the service? Choose your words, I think this is what the whole article is all about: The tendency of Filipinos to be direspectful because they judge quickly without thinking about the things that they say. Does it follow that UP graduates are corrupt because their graduates who become politicians are?

      1. If you are part of a corrupt institution or country then you have to take part of the blame and accompanying shame, especially when the deceit and lack of honor is endemic in government, the judiciary, the legal profession,and even teaching where teachers have been “rampantly” changing students achievement test papers to improve scores and gain bonuses, or the 1 million plus professionals who evade tax.

        Shame on you and the universities for churning out low quality graduates with no sense of decent values.

        I guess UP graduates make up a significant % of the professionals not paying tax.

    2. PMA is an institution, nd na offense ng academy kung yung binanggit mo eh kinalimutan ang honor code, and mind you, nka saad we the “CADETS” not lacson, ramos or who ever

    3. How do you know they don’t produce honorable people? Do you know all of them? Do you have any idea how many cadets graduate each year for you to generalize that they are all dishonorable? Oo ako alam ko ilan ang grumadweyt taon taon. Tanga ka din noh!

  5. 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 get that unanimous vote.

    Altogether, the whole affair is simply ridiculous. Essentially, a bunch of PMA cadets got together and, let’s face it, the PMA does not produce the brightest, virtuous, or wisest lugs out there, figured that Cudia, the graduating class’ salutatorian, was guilty of “lying” in relation to his being 10 minutes late for his next class. Therefore, Cadet Cudia should incur the worst possible punishment that could be meted out: dishonorable discharge. To put it simply, the punishment does not fit the crime. Not only will Cudia not graduate after spending a number of years in the PMA, he has the words “dishonorable discharged” permanently attached to his record. Such a label attached to a young man’s record may affect his entering another educational institution or getting a job later in life. What credible organization will accept someone when that person has been branded as “dishonorable?” It’s not like the cadet did something heinous. He was “allegedly” 10 minutes late for his next class. Add to that the situation in which the Cadet has zero contact with his family or outside counsel and you can see the picture of an excessively draconian and silly system being held in the PMA. Literally, a young man was robbed of a future. I disagree with the idea that this whole affair is some inane drama. It is, in fact, the outrage of a working class family who has little means or recourse but to publicly air out their grievances in order to appeal to saner and more reasonable minds. I’m all for strengthening our social institutions and further educating and strengthening the discernment of our fellow Filipinos, but the idea being espoused in this article concerning Cudia should be reconsidered. A young man’s future is at stake and given that he has not committed any known crime, a little benefit of the doubt should be accorded to an apparently hardworking and intelligent young man. At the very least, he should be given a clean slate and the word “dishonorable” should be removed from his record so that Cudia can start anew.

    Just my two centavos.

    1. You talk as if you know the whole case. Your points and facts are not even accurate. The instructor just confirmed that she just held cadet Cudia because he was insisting to see his grades even though he has a subsequent duty. Also, the Honor Committee did not held a 2nd voting as you believe. It is ‘voluntary’ for someone to change or not his vote after ‘chambering’. Chambering is done when 1 out of 9 cadets voted ‘not guilty’ where the facts of the case will again be read and he must defend his point why the erring cadet did not violate the honor code. This is done to avoid biases in the voting system. What if 1 voting cadet is close to the cadet being trialed? He might just voted in favor of him to save his friend. If cadet Cudia just resigned then he would still be discharge ‘honorably’ because he accepted his mistake and faced its consequences. His sister’s acts made the case public, consequently making everyone know that he violated the honor code. Because of this PMA will be forced to discharge him dishonorably.

      1. The present honor code of the PMA is a dinosaur that should be reformed and revised. Crab mentality, gossip, persecution, pre-judgement and trial by publicity should give way to justice, fairness and the rule of law. May I therefore recommend a cadet court martial proceedings that would allow a genuine and fair trial for any cadet officer. The rule of law, presumption of innocence, due process and trial procedure of a created cadet court martial would also train the cadets in court martial procedure which would be beneficial to morale and esprit de corps. A JAGO panel should be formed to try cases involving violations ranging from the honor code, administrative offenses and criminal offenses. Junk the honor committee in favor of cadet court martial proceedings!

        1. In this instance, honor code was not a dinosaur. I find it relevant even today.

          Being late is a light offense. Lying, however, is still a grave offense. In any decent organization, lying will still get you an outright termination.

          Plus, using social media to sway an exploitable public opinion is bullying of the cyber kind. Its still hooliganism for me, certainly low blow and not honorable.

          Now, did he really lie? The PMA has its own ways of resolving this. A question to ask is – Do we want the PMA to turn into another PNPA?

          There are a myriad of ways to solve the situation of Cudia and his working class family, without the PMA junking its “dinosaur” honor code.

      2. you know the whole case but you dare not speak the truth to those who deserve to know it?

        shame on you

        shame on pma

        pma is dishonorable abolish it

        and void all diplomas that came from it


        1. shame on you too, do you know everything? mag kadete ka rin mag memorize ng honor code at magbasa ng gray notes

    2. Unfortunately, even if his record says that he was pardoned for his mistake, practically everyone knows how he (or his family) dealt with dismissal, particularly the part where the appeal was spreading a misleading title.

      Cudia’s biggest mistake was that he opened himself to scrutiny. If they though PMA and AFP are different from pretty much any other school or company, they are very much wrong. These institutions are filled with padrinos and politicking; not covering your ass well when you make a mistake can get you stuck in a dead end position or even court-martialed.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. blaming PMA for the issues like this, tapos ung mga Euro Generals,ung mga nangurakot ba. kurakot ang kurakot. wag nyong lahatin. okay i blame UP for Nur & Joma. isama ko narin DLSU for Cedrick’s mauling incident

  8. 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.

  9. 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 govt and the PMA in particuclar in bad light beforethe eys of the world.

  10. 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!

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

  12. 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….

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

  14. i came across this site when researching honor. well, more info has come out since the last post. and Anon, who posted in March 15, is apparently right in many respects. i do suspect some irregularities in the way the judgment was rendered. even respected PMA graduates like Dado Enrique have taken up the cudgels for Mr Cudia. just found it amusing that some posters and the article’s author missed the bigger point, and misread developments. hoping that the author can give a reflection in light of more facts coming out now.

  15. A comment from struggling policeman “Aanhin mo ang dangal kung kumakalam ang sikmura at walang maipakain sa pamilya?” Kung sweldo lang ang aasahan ng mga pulis patrolman, talagang hindi sapat sa pamilya. Hindi nangangahulugan na tama ang paggawa ng mali para kumita, subalit sa katotohanan ng ating lipunan, pambihira na lang talaga ang maging tapat sa gitna ng kahirapan. Sa huli, ang dangal ay batay na lamang sa kaibuturan ng pagkatao, mayroong tao na may katutubong dangal, na pipiliin pa rin ang mahirap subalit tamang daan, sila ang tinatawag na “Endangered Species” dahil talagang papaubos na at halos namamatay na ang kanilang uri.

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