The Supreme Court on Tuesday junked Cadet 1st Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia’s plea that he be allowed to graduate after he questioned his dismissal from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in March last year.
This after the SC en banc ruled that Malacanang committed no grave abuse of discretion in upholding the ruling of the PMA that disallowed Cudia to graduate.
“Wherefore, the petition is denied. The dismissal of Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff P. Cudia from the Military Academy is hereby affirmed. No costs,” the decision, penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, read.
Cudia was not allowed to graduate after he was accused of lying and violating the PMA’s Honor Code.
“As a factual matter, the Court also noted that petitioner committed a violation of the Honor Code by ‘quibbling’ which constitutes ‘lying.’ Citing an Honor Reference Handbook cited in a US case, the Court defined ‘quibbling’ as a situation where the person creates a false impression in the mind of his listener by cleverly wording what he says, omitting relevant facts, or telling a partial truth. When this is done with the intent to deceive or mislead, he is quibbling; and because it is an intentional deception, quibbling is a form of lying,” the ruling states.
The high court, in its unanimous ruling, even cited “academic freedom” as a ground to dismiss Cudia’s petition.
“[P]etitioner ‘cunningly chose words which led to confusion;’ [the SC]also noted that ‘it is not just a matter of semantics and a product of plain and simple inaccuracy… (as) (t)here is manipulation of facts and presentation of untruthful explanation constitutive of an Honor Code violation. The Court also noted that the penalty of dismissal for violation of the Honor Code is appropriate and not disproportionate under the circumstances,” the SC said.
The SC added that the PMA did not violate Cudia’s right to due process since “minimum standards of fairness were met” in investigating and dismissing Cudia.
The Court stated that “in order to be proper and immune from constitutional infirmity, a cadet who is sought to be dismissed or separated from the academy must be afforded a hearing, be apprised of the specific charges against him, and be given an adequate opportunity to present his or defense both from the point of view of time and the use of witnesses and other evidence.” The Court noted that petitioner had been afforded these rights.
“In affirming the action taken by the PMA, the Court noted that ‘by reason of their special knowledge and expertise gained from the handling of specific matters falling under their respective jurisdictions, the factual findings of administrative tribunals are ordinarily accorded respect if not finality by the Court, unless such findings are not supported by evidence or vitiated by fraud, imposition or conclusion; where the procedure which led to the findings is irregular; when palpable errors are committed; or when a grave abuse of discretion, arbitrariness, or capriciousness is manifest. In this case, the Court found no reason to deviate from the findings of the PMA,” the high court said.