You can’t apply dishonorable Filipino civilian standards to military institutions

four-masks_hypocrisyStandards of honor in Filipino civilian society are quite simply, bulok.

The only opinion I have had – and will ever have – of Mr. Aldrin Cudia’s case with the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is this: the only thing known for sure is that the Honor Committee found him guilty of violating the Honor Code. Beyond that, all other “facts” being thrown around on social media are yet to be verified. Yes, even those that self-proclaimed social media network Rappler has published.

I think Filipino civilian society, in the way it has pilloried the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on social media for the way they handled Aldrin Cudia’s case, has overlooked a few key differences between civilian and military life:

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1) That the military, by nature, is not necessarily a democratic institution, especially not in the way Filipino civilians define their “democracy”;

2) That entrance into the service is entirely optional, and most of all;

3) That the standards of what is fair and acceptable in Filipino civilian society do not necessarily apply to the military.

You decide to enter the military, you willingly subject yourself to its rules and regulations. There should be no dispute about that. As such, let the institutions concerned handle this case on their own terms.

The problem with Filipino civilian society is that its members meddle in everything, especially matters which they are not well-versed in. (Problema kasi sa mga sibilyang Pilipino, gustong pakialaman lahat eh, pati mga bagay na di nila alam.)

The military, ideally, accepts the best, brightest, and toughest among those who apply, and aims to make them even better, brighter, and tougher as they live its way of life. Filipino civilian society, on the other hand, accepts whatever it can get, and makes it impoverished, “victimized”, dishonorable, corrupt, and mediocre.

The principle at work here is deceptively and elegantly simple:

Before you go around claiming to espouse “reform” for institutions that you perceive as dishonorable and/or corrupt, make sure your own is credibly honorable and/or not corrupt.

Let’s be fair, and put it this way, then:

The challenge for Filipino civilian society is to outgrow its dishonorable, corrupt, and law-disregarding nature by disciplining its members and getting them to work consistently within institutions and rules which they themselves wanted to be subject to.

The challenge for the Filipino military institution, on the other hand, is to show just how self-correcting and intellectually honest it is, and how it can consistently live up to the principles and standards of excellence that it so espouses.

See the difference?

Yes, it is easy to go around saying “rules are rules, and must be followed.” It IS that simple, and Filipino civilians must make it that simple. Unfortunately, Filipinos tend to complicate things by introducing all sorts of excuses as to why they don’t, or can’t. They see themselves as above laws and institutions.

The military does not demand excuses; it demands results. Filipino civilian society would do well to remember, and even emulate that.

Just because Filipino civilian society doesn’t like or agree with how the PMA handled Mr. Cudia’s case, does not necessarily mean that the PMA did wrong. It especially sounds hypocritical coming from a society that hardly practices honor, and instead encourages lying, cheating, and stealing among its ranks.

Hypocrisy, blatant and utter disregard for laws and institutions, and obliviousness to one’s own faults simply have no place in a modern, progressive society.

[Photo courtesy:]

39 Replies to “You can’t apply dishonorable Filipino civilian standards to military institutions”

  1. I still remember those kids when I was in elementary, those who change the rules while the game is on going, when they feel they are loosing. Pinoys are just like that, trying to bend rules to suit their ends.

  2. Sadly we have already seen evil examples in government that have a direct effect on all sectors of society. The lesson here is that those who are supposed to lead do not practice what they preach. The present incompetence, stupidity, massive corruption, hypocrisy, apathy, violations of rules and regulations, political circuses, trial by publicity, blame games, scapegoating, etc. All this has a ripple effect. I will not judge Cadet Cudia. The so-called honor committee judged him as a chamber. My question is… who will police the honor committee on a very harsh judgement call without considering the extenuating circumstances in not even cutting him slack. I have read in the news that one vote of acquittal is sufficient to acquit completely. I have also read in the news that the minutes of proceedings were erased. Let us wait for the ruling of the Chief of Staff on the matter. As I said before, junk the honor committee in favor of cadet officer court martial proceedings. At least the protection afforded by a fair trial in the observance of due process and the rule of law will assure justice to cadets after the Cudia affair.

    1. ^This comment is so much better than the cut-and-paste-fest of an article above. I agree that the way it was handled begs the question of whether the existing system in pma is effective in upholding the principles it stands for.

    2. you will not judge Cadet Cudia but you will judge the Honor Committee. And yet in all of these, all you read are news reports. How very fair of you. You don’t even have the courage to post your real name. Be a man.

      1. @Robert Divinagracia

        The last time I heard and saw… the Philippine free press in news articles and editorials pummeled the PMA honor committee. It is but fair to defend cadet Cudia in this trying times where the star chamber known as the honor committee lost its credibility because of fair reporting by the free press. I have the courage to face trolls like you. Goddemit I was already active in the military when you were still in your diapers and am more senior than you are. Now be a good boy and behave.

        1. Mr. Thomas Jefferson.
          You called the man a troll yet you use pseudonym to hide your true self. Doesn’t seem right. Who says the Honor Committee lost their credibility? That is just an opinion and I for one disagree. I respect your opinion and you should respect others’. Just because you are an old fogey in the military, you didn’t earn the right to tell somebody younger to be a good boy and behave. We are all free to express our opinion.

        2. Really, Mr. Thomas Jefferson wannabe? All these you learned while surfing the net? You must come to the Philippines and try making me behave. This young boy can give you a good spanking.

      2. Sino nga ba itong si fallen angel? Magpakilala ka nga, mas maganda pa. Independent ba ang PMA sa usapin sa human rights?

        1. Mario, my question for you is does this called human rights have the right? They always cry for rights yet they don’t do their responsibility for having that rights and this is what they pass on to the Filipino people, this is how they educate poor Filipino people. Asking your rights without doing your responsibility for that rights.

  3. @FA, U R correct again. IDK Much about the AFP or PMA but the Military I served had a Uniformed Code of Military Justice, THE U.C.M.J. as it is called, and it resembles civilian rule of law very little. Simply put: Step out of line soldier(DON’T do it!) and you WILL get run over and it will be tough shit too!
    Applying that to civilian populations across the globe may be a good idea but would no doubt be seen as a sort Nazism or some such non-sense, but all it really is….is discipline.

  4. Again, Cudia was found guilty of violating the Honor Code by his peers (the Cadet Corps) and not the Academy per se. The honor code belongs to the cadets! Through the years, the honor system has evolved including how they voted. A 7-2 or 8-1 verdict is now being deliberated (by their rule) unlike in the previous years, where the first voting is absolute. In addition, as first class cadet, he should have known the consequences of his action! He should be the exemplar and implementor of their code!

  5. In 1986, about 50 cadets left the academy for an all edged cheating ring. Most likely, some of them were not even part of it , but may have knowledge or have witness the cheating and didn’t do anything about it. As a result, some of them resigned for the good of the service (for not reporting the violations) while others were tried and found guilty and eventually resigned. These were 2nd class cadets (junior year). Bottom line, PMA cannot assure what kind of officers she can produce. 4 years of training and indoctrination will not guarantee the integrity, moral standard, and honor she instill to the graduates will always resides in their hearts and conscience. We can only hope…just like being a parent! There may be a lot of corrupt officers she produced, but let us not forget also, the alumni who gave their lives protecting the democracy and the people and who chose to lived the honorable life!

  6. PMA…. be careful what kind of leaders you make!

    cudia was accused of violating the honor code merely because of his sentences in his explanation. the honor code is not so honorable when it is used with greed and envy over those accomplished, especially by a ranking officer in the regular force(a major) over a cadet. a major over cadet!!

    the honor committee belongs to the corps, yes, but with cadets who have grown up to think only within the box of idealism. Fanatics!!!

    this country is in the dire need if cudiAs
    maybe that’s why there are more violators of the honor code in the regular forces.

    it’s about time! make pma a better institution!!!

  7. The PMA and its cadets are supported by our taxmoney. So, we have the full right, to see that our taxmoney is supporting and bringing up people, worthy of our support and money.

    Cadets, are not Robots/Clones. Following order from superiors blindly. They are thinking, breathing individuals.

    During the Nuremberg trials of NAZIs in Nuremberg, Germany; after World War II. The defense of the German Military NAZIs were: ” We were just following orders”…so, they gassed more than 8 million Jews, German political opponents, and other ethnic minorities. There are times to follow orders. And, there are times, when you follow a higher moral callings. We have to be sure, the Military Academy does not produce: Robots, Clones, Murderers, Political Opportunists, Thieves, Liars, etc…”Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty…”, says a proverb…

    1. your analogy is irrelevant. the honor code has long existed for decades and has been kept sacred by a brotherhood only known to a few, which, unfortunately and obviously, you do not belong to, and neither do I. i am also a taxpayer but i leave it all to the people of the AFP particularly of the PMA with full trust as to how they run their business in defense of our country. i have seen a good number of heroes from PMA in our military and in the government that did very well and even paid the ultimate sacrifice just so we could eat, live, work, and be happy with our families and enjoy the freedom they were sworn to protect. you must be happy that these cadets, as young as they are, know and try to imbibe and practice the code of honesty instilled in them which most of us from the civilian society feels so bad about. we have the right to know but we don’t have the right to influence their decision. We pay taxes so they could do their job. They are just doing their job.

      These cadets did not follow orders from anybody. They followed what was agreed upon in the code.They had to do it because they are obliged to do it. Cadet Cudia must have known that because he once agreed to it. He broke the code, he has to live with what whatever consequences. He knows that.

    2. I stand for what I wrote. There is no sacred institution on this Earth; much more the military…soldiers are trained for war. They are not immuned to graft and corruption. They can be tempted of power, also..

  8. This website is so fascistic in a good way.Me like.Discipline is needed always.Cudia should have learned his place and stop whining. Rules are Rules.The law is the law.

  9. Rules are rules.The Honor Com should have respected the 8-1 vote…that’s the honorable thing to do. From the start, there is envy and conflict of interest. There should be control in the system..control from people who are abusive of their power.

  10. PMA is about Honor, Courage, & Integrity. The goal to develop thinking men that can lead soldiers/people. That means also you need to know which battle you can fight. Yes if he would have gotten to graduate would he be respected by his fellow officers? Would his men follow him into battle? There is a certain level of skills, aggression, logic, and limit that needs to be developed. That includes OPSEC aka operational security, if he cannot do that then that proves he’s not worthy to be an officer. The military has a different set of rules/standards than a civilian, people should understand that. Its a volunteer profession that’s how it works.

  11. 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.
    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…

    1. I belong the camp that believes it was just a matter of semantics. Like what was noted before, there were some issues that begs the question whether the cudia case was properly handled: him having a slightly more onerous punishment (greater demerit than the rest, more touring hours), the existence of the chambering when years before there were no such thing, and the seemingly arbitrary interpretation of the words used. These issues makes me wonder whether the committee was just and fair. Note that being just and fair is different from being strict. And they are not mutually exclusive either.

  12. They failed their Brother Cadet who excelled greatly studying with them. No one even defended him from the hazard of whatever that Screwy Code was. FUCK THEIR CODE ! It isn’t perfect.

    1. watch your mouth brother. nobody is perfect. NO they did not fail their brother cadet…Cadet Cudia failed them. He betrayed them. He lied just so he would not get demerits and still keeps his class standing. Remember, they were 4 of them who came late. Everybody else accepted the consequence of their tardiness but Cudia. That is the point. How could you defend somebody who could not be honest and would do everything just to get ahead of you. They would soon become soldiers… As soldiers, say for instance, they were caught in life and death situation. How would you expect Cudia to handle the situation? By the way he acted on a simple demerits and class standing, you could not expect him to fight and save a brother’s life in the heat of battle. As I see it, he would gladly run and save his ass off to keep himself alive unmindful of his dying comrades… Just a thought.

      1. I may have missed something but if all 4 of them were late, why was his punishment harsher (more touring duties and demerits)?

  13. The honor committee had made its decision, and I thinks its final. So therefore, Cudia had been judged. What we would like to judge right now is the the one who judged Cudia, which is the honor committee. So, may the ruler they use to judge be the ruler to which they will be judged!

  14. I donot criticize the ruling of the Honor Committee on the Cudia Case… What I do not like is the way the writer of this article project or show the negative of civilians. Civilians is the reason we have the military, not the other way around. Military is here to protect the country and its citizen as a whole, not the other way around. Even in the military, the President (which is a civilian) is the Commander in Chief. So, do not project negative image of our civilians… WE Filipino are honorable people, whether you are military or civilian!

    1. WE Filipino are honorable people, whether you are military or civilian!

      Oh really? I wonder why Filipinos have allowed the pork barrel scam to go on for decades. I wonder why Filipinos keep voting the same bozos who steal public funds in office. And I wonder why the Philippines is considered a basketcase.

      1. These Filipinos who voted, who allowed the perpetuation of the pork barrel scam, these include both the civilian and the military? Am I interpreting your comment correctly? If so, I guess we cannot put the military on a higher moral (enlightened?) ground than the civilian. They are as much responsible for the predicament we are in. Right?

        Oh by the way, I love your review on the manila film fest.

        1. Huh…? Your comment is out of context. I was responding to the claim “WE Filipino are honorable people…

          BTW, thanks for saying you love my review. 😉

        2. No problem. Your work just shows how intellectually honest and upstanding you are.

          Yes, you did respond to the claim. But I was noting how the respond did not distinguish the military and the civilian, with regards to being responsible for the voting and perpetuation of the scams.

          By the way, i have screenshots. 😀

  15. “you cant apply dishonorable filipino standards to military institutions.” is the same as saying “there will be no wars if there is no military; so what’s the use of having the military, they only cause wars.” these two statements, i do not believe in, as they both over generalize, judge and gives a shallow representation of each of the subjects’ purposes. i pray that the writer of this blog would understand how misleading his statement sounds, for it does not give fair representation of both the civil and military institution.

    i disagree with how you divide civil and military life and here are my opinions on the points you made:

    1. our military institution is part of the filipino society, part of the philippine government, which is (ideally) democratic. do not mistake the military’s authoritarian structure as to not being democratic, as our military is still under the philippine government and should function within the standards of diplomacy, one standard is transparency which is the most important standard for the military institution

    2. yes, entering the PMA is optional, but that does not mean that when you enter the PMA you cannot function as a free man. that does not mean you cannot fight for what you think is right and point out what is wrong when you see them.

    3. understand that when civilians give their opinion on what is right and acceptable for them, they do not think of it in the basis of what is right based on them being a filipino civilian. we gave opinions having “what is right for a human beings to have” in mind. but if you really think about it, we were not thinking of what was right, we were thinking of what was wrong with what happened. we saw that Cudia was not treated well enough to be given due process and that is what we saw. now if you regard our military institution as to having higher regard than those of the civilian population, then what we see wrong should seem near evil in your eyes, and yet you still see it differently.

    sure there are differences with the military life and the civil life, but military institutions can only claim to have societies within the greater society, they are still part of the greater society, only their function differs.

    yes there are filipinos who are deliquent in their civil and national responsibilities, yes i would rather they change their manner of living, but there are some of us who still live by our responsibility to the filipino people and state, we still have a voice, we want it heard.

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