How Facebook breeched PMA’s walls

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Sunday, March 23, 2014


FORT DEL PILAR -- Social media has infiltrated even the walls around Asia's premier military academy.

A tight-lipped Philippine Military Academy (PMA) got the shock of their lives when Facebook broke the news on Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia's plight, making the otherwise "in house" academy case, a nationwide telenovela.

Netizens pounced on the case of the beleaguered cadet and berated policies of military academy.

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Pages in social networking site Facebook were launched to support the beleaguered cadet with "Suporta at Panalangin Para Kay Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia" garnering thousands of members as well as the "Justice for PMA Cadet Cudia" doing the same, further hyping the case of the cadet.

It was Cudia's sister, Annavee, who broke the news on social media with the rest of the nation following the case's every turn.

"We have no hold over the relatives of the cadets when it comes to social media," PMA superintended General Oscar Lopez said.

Lopez said the rules of the academy only apply to cadets and not their family. He expressed dismay over the unprecedented event, which is blamed on technology.

Lopez said the Cudia case showed the power social media has but stressed, "Some things have to be kept confidential."

It is the first time information about the plight of a cadet leaked outside the walls of the academy and the sympathy, which has been extended Cudia is attributed to the reach and strength of the social media.

Last week, after the graduation of the supposed class Cudia was supposed to finish with, he voluntarily left PMA accompanied by relatives and lawyers from the Public Attorney's Office (PAO).

Cudia, of Arayat, Pampanga, was slated to join the Philippine Navy as top Navy cadet and was supposed to be part of the prestigious PMA Top 10.

Despite the academic excellence of Cudia, the academy put the Honor Code as its highest gauge of character. The code states: “PMA cadets do not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate among us those who do so.”

The PMA Honor Board deliberated the fate of the cadet and finally decided to let him go.

During the PMA graduation President Benigno Aquino III cited the honor code of the academy during his valedictory address for Siklabdiwa (Sundalong Ikararangal ng Lahing Bayani sa diwang Wagas) Class 2014 saying the code must be the basis of the life of every graduating cadet who will serve the government.

Aquino told Class 2014 to rely on their integrity, courage and loyalty to deal with life outside the academy. He has since then turned over the plight of Cudia to Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista, who will finally decide on the appeal of the young cadet who has been formally separated from the PMA.

As the nation watches the next episode of the Cudia drama, the case is now open for a wide range of opinion over social media, with every “Juan” now entitled to his own opinion over the strict regimented life inside the walls of the PMA.

The academy which traces own its history back to the Academia Militar established on October 25, 1898 at Malolos, Bulacan may now be the subject of another controversy over the Cudia case.

Years ago groups called on a review of Asia’s premier military academy on the heels of controversies surrounding the Armed Forces of the Philippines, speculations grew for the abolition of the PMA.

Whistleblowers linking the AFP to plunder and misuse of funds are attacking the very core of the PMA which is grounded on integrity and honesty.

Ret. Lt. Col. George Rabusa, spilling the beans on the AFP is a member of PMA Class 1981, while his former assistant, corroborating his revelations, Colonel Antonio Ramon Lim is part of Class of 1986.
Former defense secretary Angelo Reyes, who is linked to have gotten millions in government funds and eventually committed suicide, is a member of PMA Class 66.

PMA graduates also led the Oakwood mutiny in 2007 was spearheaded by 321 armed soldiers who called themselves "Bagong Katipuneros" led by Army Captain Gerardo Gambala and then Lieutenant Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV, now senator, of the Philippine Navy took over the Oakwood Premier Ayala Center in Makati City to show the Filipino people the alleged corruption of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. They also stated that they saw signs suggesting that the President was going to declare martial law.

In response to these, a new PMA roadmap was then crafted to have a deeper sense of leadership and understanding for the constitution was instilled to avoid a repeat of the foiled mutiny.

In the wake of advancement, the PMA now faces a new obstacle, social media, with the case of Cadet Cudia which promises to become a precedent, it will now be another challenge for the military school to keep confidential any part of the academy.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 24, 2014.

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