Editorial: Not only about honor

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Monday, March 17, 2014


SIKLAB Diwa Class of 2014 has graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), a total of 222 of them. But as they marched for the final time last Sunday, one of them was confined at an officer’s quarters of the PMA while fighting his dismissal and his failure to graduate.

His dismissal was ordered by an Honor Committee whose members were among those who graduated Sunday. President Noynoy Aquino has ordered the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to review the case of the PMA cadet, Aldrin Jeff Cudia.

Cudia’s dismissal, supposedly for lying in his answer to the question why he was late for two minutes in one of his classes last November, sparked a discussion in traditional media and in social networking sites about military honor.

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The Honor Code was also the subject of the President’s speech during the graduation rites. “That is why this is the challenge to all of us: If our task is to enforce the Honor Code inside this institution, let us uphold the code outside the PMA.”

Indeed, despite the supposed strict adherence to the Honor Code-- which requires cadets not to lie, steal, cheat or condone such offenses—the PMA still produced the corps of human rights violators during the Martial Law period and a slew of corrupt AFP officials through the decades.

Perhaps a former PMA cadet identified only in a rappler.com story as Larry (“50 Cadets Once Left PMA for Honor Violations, March 17, 2014) was correct when he talked about the Honor Code. He said something was missing in the PMA honor system.

"The PMA should also teach justice, not only honor," rappler.com quoted Larry. "When you impose a harsh and cruel penalty on a small offense, it is an injustice."

Not only that, Larry didn’t want an important value like “honor” to be learned by rote or by using the stick. "Character formation is a process. You also want the cadets to really believe in the system, not just fear it," he said. Because once you lose the fear, what happens?

Finally, there’s Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin himself, who admitted that the PMA honor system needs to be rebooted for the modern era. He obviously doesn’t believe that the system is in consonance with internationally accepted norms of conduct, like respect for human rights.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 18, 2014.

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