THE Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are standing firmly on the decision of the academy’s Honor Committee to dismiss Cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia in March for lying.
Cudia was not allowed to graduate even if he has finished all his academic requirements. His appeals were ignored, including one made to the Office of the President.
The AFP leadership claims that the Honor Committee, composed of 9 cadets, was correct in its findings that Cudia violated the honor code. Thus, the case was closed and Cudia should move on with his life, according to the military top brass.
But the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) disagreed with the AFP and the academy, saying the Honor Committee was the first to violate the code.
CHR Chairman Etta Rosales said Cudia was not given due process by the academy and the AFP, which is a clear violation of the 1987 Constitution.
In an interview with Radyo 5, Rosales said it is written in the manual of the academy that the Honor Committee should vote unanimously, or 9-0, to exonerate or dismiss a cadet on trial.
In the case of Cudia, one member of the committee voted not guilty but was later on “forced to change his vote” during the “chambering” or second round of voting in a room, according to the CHR chief. “Chambering” is not in the manual.
The AFP, learning of the incident, did not rectify or correct the problem but approved the committee’s decision to dismiss Cudia.
The AFP insists that violating the honor code means dismissal from the academy, which has been the practice before and will be the practice for the years to come.
One wonders, if the practice is faulty, will it still be observed?
Rosales said the AFP did not give Cudia due process.
But isn’t “protecting and defending the Constitution” one of the sworn duties of the officers and men of our Armed Forces, Gen. Bautista?
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A quiet worker at DOJ
As the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to focus its attention on the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam investigation, one official works incessantly in the background to make sure that other cases get attention too.
Prosecutor General Claro Arellano sees to it that cases with probable cause filed before the Prosecutors Offices nationwide are filed in court immediately, or dismissed outright for lack of evidence.
Arellano, the big boss of all the prosecutors in the country, who were once called fiscals by the way, tries to avoid backlogs of cases before each provincial, city, or municipal prosecutor office.
The fomer Chief Prosecutor of Quezon City is constantly in touch with his people, even those in the remotest towns, via his mobile phone reminding them to review at once the cases filed before their respective offices.
Twice I asked Arellano for help. One was regarding a lowly government employee who was accused of receiving a bribe. The case has been pending at the prosecutor’s office in Bulacan for months. When Arellano found that there was no sufficient evidence against the poor employee, he ordered the Bulacan prosecutor to dismiss the case.
He also immediately reviewed a prosecutor’s decision regarding a case that went through five motions for reconsiderations, yet is still pending at the DOJ.
I was told that he was asked by a reporter once why he is so keen in keeping the cases moving. Arellano simply answered, “Ayaw ko lang natatambakan ng kaso [I just don’t want to be swamped with cases].”
If all of our prosecutors have the same thinking like Arellano, I’m sure justice will be served swiftly.