By Former Captain Gabriel Ortigoza, Ph.D
Philippine Military Academy (PMA), the premier military institution of the Philippines, is in the limelight with intense scrutiny as boldly printed in the headlines of national newspapers, online articles and blogs, and in tri and social media this past week in relation to the issue of a graduating cadet being dismissed for coming two minutes late to class. The "two minutes late" is only a tip of an iceberg. There is much deeper into it.
|Then Captain Ortigoza joined to inspect with the guest|
of honor the Long Gray Line when
he was still a military professor at the Philippine
Military Academy in Baguio City
Before I discuss the issue please allow me to give you a brief history of the Philippine Military Academy as lifted from my briefing notes when I was still in the Corps of Professors, PMA.
The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is a degree-granting institution especially created by law for the purpose of training, developing, and instructing certain selected young men to become commission officers in the regular component of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The Philippine Military Academy began as an officer’s school of the Philippine Constabulary established at the Walled City of Intramuros in Manila on February 17, 1905. Three years later, on September 1, 1908, the school was transferred to Baguio City, first at Camp Henry T. Allen and later at Teachers’ Camp.
On September 8, 1926, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 3496 renamed the school as Philippine Constabulary Academy and lengthened its course from nine months to three years, with a provision to strengthen the faculty and revise its curriculum.
On December 21, 1936, the Commonwealth Act No. 1, also known as the National Defense Act was passed. The law formally created the Philippine Military Academy and authorized it to confer a Bachelor of Science degree on its graduates after they successfully complete the four-year course.
On May 5, 1947, the Academy reopened at Camp Henry T. Allen. Due to the need for wider ground for training, the Academy transferred to its permanent home at Fort Del Pilar in Loakan, about ten kilometers from downtown Baguio City.
The Philippine Military Academy was transformed into a Tri-Service Academy tasked to provide functional officers for the three branches of service of the AFP. The PMA Tri-Service Curriculum was implemented effective June 1993, starting with PMA Class of 1995, who were at that time in their second class year. During the same year, PMA admitted the first batch of female cadets in accordance with Republic Act 7192.
The Philippine Military Academy adheres to the philosophy that education must develop the whole person. Under this concept, education thus is not limited to the development of the intellect only. It also includes physical education, acquisition of knowledge, and the development of skills, habits, and attitudes and values are required by a chosen profession. Thus, the mission of the Philippine Military Academy aptly expresses this total-person concept:
“To instruct, train, and develop the cadets so that each graduate shall possess the character, the broad and basic military skills, and the education essential to the successful pursuit of a progressive military career.”
The Philippine Military Academy is a unique institution as it is both a military as well as an educational organization. At the head of the organization is the Superintendent who, in keeping with the dual nature of PMA, acts both as a military commander and president of a school.
Implementing the training programs of the cadets are the Academics Group, tasked with the mission of “implementing the academic portion of the PMA curriculum according to the standards prescribed by the Academic Board; “and the Tactics Group, tasked with the dual mission of “providing the broad and basic military education and developing the character and attitudes essential of an effective officer.”
The Academics Group is headed by the Group Head. Under him are eight departments: Social Sciences, Management, Math, History and Strategy, Humanities, Engineering Sciences, Computing and Information Sciences, and Natural Sciences.
The Tactics Group, headed by the Commandant of Cadets is made up of the Department of Leadership Development, Physical Education, and three Warfare Departments: Ground Warfare, Air Warfare, and Naval Warfare. The Guidance and Counseling Office is likewise under the jurisdiction of the Tactics Group.
The last major unit of PMA is the Support Group headed by the Commanding Officer. The group is responsible in providing the support for all Command Activities, programs, and projects undertaken in connection with cadet training.
The conduct of cadets at PMA is regulated by Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines Regulation (CCAFPR) or the Graybook. Every cadet is duty bound to read, understand, and internalized the meaning and content of this book which is considered to be the bible of PMA cadets.
Military and civilian employees of the academy who are directly involved with cadets' training such as instructors from the Academics and Tactics Groups are highly urged and encouraged to read and understand the CCAFPR; other employees of PMA who are not directly involved with cadet's training are advised to read the book.
The cadet corps is bound by the Honor Code which states, "We, the cadets, do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate among us those who do so." Violation of the code has a serious consequence.
The Honor Committee is composed of selected cadets with high moral ascendancy among the corps who are in charge of strictly implementing the code. Once a cadet is reported of violating the code, the chair of the committee is mandated to schedule an investigation. The committee usually schedule the inquiry at the wee hours to keep the proceeding secret to protect the privacy of the cadet being investigated. There are two important questions a reported cadet should answer: Did I commit the offense? Did I intend to violate the regulation? It needs a unanimous decision amongst the members of the Honor Committee to render a guilty verdict against the accused.
A cadet found guilty by the committee must accept the verdict, silently resign, and can leave the academy with dignity. On the other hand, a guilty cadet who chose to stay in the academy (until he/she resigns because of the pressure) or stands on his/her decision to stay until graduation has to face a psychological treatment of ostracism.
The Honor Committee may order the CCAFP to ostracize a cadet found guilty of violating the Honor Code. Once ostracize, a cadet is considered not part of the cadet corps and treated as persona non grata, or an outcast, or a leper where the cadet corps shunned for moral and social reasons and the corps won't talk to and the underclass, including the plebes, will not salute or address him/her sir or ma'am. A guilty cadet is on his own.
Let’s go back to the case of Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia who was awarded 11 demerits and 13 hours of touring for reporting two minutes late to his next class. Cadet Cudia appealed his punishment saying his instructor Ms. Monique Costales in the previous Management class dismissed them a little bit late. Cadet Cudia claimed he was under instruction from Ms. Costales to wait for the instructor to give him the section grade. Furthermore, Cudia used the word “class” for the reason that he was with two other cadets 1CL Miranda and 1CL Arcangel who have queries and business with the instructor while the other members of the section proceeded to the next English class.
English is a one unit course (at PMA a subject is called a course) that some cadets take for granted but, look, what a minor subject brings you.
On January 7, 2014, Cadet Cudia was reported for an Honor violation.
The PMA Honor Committee, after its investigation, found Cudia with nine (9) guilty votes and zero (0) not guilty vote or 9:0. The Honor report says: Lying, that is giving statement that perverts the truth in his written appeal, stating that his 4th period class ended at 1500H that made him late in the succeeding class.”
On February 10, 2014, Cadet Cudia, who was supposed to graduate this March and is supposed to receive the Philippine Navy Saber being the top cadet to join the Philippine Navy, was placed on indefinite leave without pay and allowances.
On February 21, 2014, the Philippine Military Academy Honor Committee ordered the Cadet Corps to ostracize First Class Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia. The order is internal from the cadet corps and not from PMA Command.
The offenses listed in Special Order Number 01 as published by Rappler are: breaching confidentiality by putting documents in social media, violating Honor Code, lacking initiative to resign, and smearing the name of PMA.
Ostracism is not only a thing of the past but a thing of the present and I guess will continue in the unknown future.
The technical aspect on the process of investigation can be best explained by the experts particularly those cadets and alumni who are and were members of the Honor Committee.
Cadet Cudia found supporters from social media facebook to include PMA alumnus Dado Enrique who was the baron of PMA class 1983 and a former member of the Honor Committee. Dado wrote on his facebook account: “Do not cover up the 8-1 votes that became 9:0 and explain to me that it is the current practice. Shame on you all.” Dado is asking PMA to produce the video tape of the proceedings.
Cadet Cudia is fighting back on the grounds by saying that the Honor Committee violated the spirit of the honor code by intending to deceive or intending to take undue advantage and the professor certified, as being circulated in public, that she was responsible in dismissing Cudia late from the class.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista ordered reinvestigation of the case of Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia.
On the other hand, on February 21, 2014, Lt Raphael Marcial PN (PMA 2008) and member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) was caught by Makati Police withdrawing money from East/West Bank using cloned ATM card. PSG is in charge of the security of the President of the Philippines. Marcial has with him 11 more ATM cards when he was arrested according to news report. Lt Martial was placed under the custody of Makati Police after he was apprehended.
In July 2013 my family and I visited PMA to watch Silent Drill at Borromeo Field. While watching the presentation I noticed that the Officer-in-Charge with a military grade of major was babysitting his toddler son while on official duty. In other words, he was multitasking but it didn’t look good as the scenario was a sore to the eye of the visiting public. That officer should have somebody cuddled his son while he was giving instructions from the grandstand to the cadets on the field. I hope that when those cadets become officers of the AFP and will have the chance to come back and serve PMA they won’t bring their children with them while on official duty.
Lately, I heard from the grapevine that eight million pesos (P8, 000,000.00) from S6 is unaccounted for, better look for that huge amount of money because that is public money from people's tax.
The abovementioned incidents are disgraced to the Philippine Military Academy in particular and to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in general.
The family, the basic unit of society, has major influence in the character formation of a child. The conduct of an individual is basically dependent on his/her upbringing which usually taught at an early age by his/her parent(s) or responsible adult(s).
PMA is an institution that helps transform a care-free civilian youth to a responsible adult. The academy provides education and training to sharpen the thought process, improve critical thinking and decision making of its cadets in preparation to become leaders of character of the AFP and of the country.
A cadet’s conduct inside and outside the academy basically is dependent on his/her upbringing. PMA has nothing to do when its graduates choose to lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do. Everyone is responsible for his/her action and it should not be blamed on the institution he/she came from. Everything a human does is based on his/her independent judgment.
I hope PMA will not only be quick in dismissing an erring cadet but also be swift in awarding appropriate punishment for its officers, non-commissioned officers, and civilian employees who consciously disregard to follow or violate AFP and DND regulations.
Lastly, my expectation, as a Filipino, to the AFP is to actively reform the armed forces and get rid of the few scalawags who easily land in the headlines that bring shame to the military organization (firstname.lastname@example.org).