The case of Aldrin Cudia and government dishonesty

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Reading of the case of Cadet Aldrin Cudia, I was both transfixed and bewildered by the decision of the Philippine Military Academy to dismiss him from the school and prevent him from graduating with his class at this year’s PMA commencement last  March 16.

The reason for the rather harsh punishment is that Cudia violated the cadet’s honor code by lying for being late by two minutes  in attending a class. The code says: “We do not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate others among us who do.”

The case has drawn wide public attention, as Cudia and his family went to social media to apply pressure on the authorities. Public opinion has been quite divided on the case.

Many, including President Aquino, who spoke at the commencement, are quite proud and supportive that the academy continues to enforce strictly the honor code, brooking no violations and denying all appeals for its relaxation. It is a beacon of good conduct at a time when so many things in our society are breaking down on moral and ethical questions.


Others supported Cudia and his family in their appeal for reconsideration of the harsh verdict, on the grounds that the punishment was disproportionate to the offense, and that the cadet was a high-performing student, who would have graduated as class salutatorian, had he been allowed to graduate.

The cadet and his family met with President Aquino before the commencement exercises, but the president sensibly declined to change the decision of the school authorities. The family’s appeal to the Supreme Court for a stay of the school’s decision was denied.

Thirdly, there are those (including this writer), who believe Cudia’ s case must be studied from a wider perspective that includes  a rigorous examination of honesty as a moral or ethical precept, and a consideration of the high prevalence of lying in national politics and government.

Has lying been admitted as the 11th commandment in Holy Scriptures, on a motion from Philippine authorities? When did the Christian and Jewish churches agree on this amendment, and when was it ratified by God?

Lying—not part of God’s commandments.

“Thou shalt not lie” was overlooked by God when he gave the tablets to Moses on Mount Sinai. Honesty was not one of the priority virtues he wanted to promote.

The closest commandment to lying is the 9th commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” In truth, lying is more like bearing false witness against yourself – like hanging yourself on your own petard.

Among the virtues, honesty or truth-telling is not as highly regarded as the PMA code seems to think it is.

In his book, Integrity, Stephen Carter devotes a whole chapter to the theme, “The insufficiency of Honesty.” He contends that:

Although honesty is a virtue of importance, it is a different virtue than integrity.  One cannot have integrity without being honest, but one can be honest and yet have little integrity.

Lying and non-disclosure as the law often recognizes, are not the same thing. Sometimes it is illegal to tell what you know.

Honesty alone is not a substitute for integrity, if it is not preceded by discernment of what is right.

The expedient lie

The case for honesty is weakened particularly by the legal system and politics.
Carter says there is such a thing as an expedient lie – the lie to get us more smoothly  to where we want to go. The expedient lie is as much a part of legal traditions as claiming to value truth.

A respectable body of scholarship has proposed that the defendant  in a criminal case should have the right to lie under oath –that for the defendant to swear “I did not do it” should not be prosecutable as perjury.

Courts have carved out a doctrine known as “the exculpatory no” which allows people who are under investigation to deny their guilt. This doctrine is sometimes defended as part of the constitutional protection against self-incrimination

This is the reason why it’s been so hard in the pork barrel scam scandal to pin down any of the accused senators on anything. Their denial of guilt and their legal tactics constitute a wall, against which the justice department and the Ombudssman are apparently not clever enough to prevail.

Dishonesty in  Yolanda and DAP

The argument for honesty comes to grief especially against the prevalence of lying in government today. A whole book  has been written on the subject of how US presidents lie, and how certain administrations were destroyed because of their deception of the American public.

In our own case, the Yolanda catastrophe has quickly risen as a case where the Administration has been doing a lot of lying, and may soon be paying for it.

Administration dishonesty about the Disursement Acceleration Program (DAP) could be the Waterloo of  this presidency.

Just days before he went to Baguio before the PMA commencement, President Aquino met with high school students from Leyte who had been displaced by Yolanda and had to relocate to Manila for their studies. The meeting was notable because Aquino used the opportunity to apologize to Yolanda victims and survivors for the slow flow of government assistance and relief to stricken communities.

In apologizing, Aquino rationalized why government was slow, and in the process made a number of misleading  statements. He said, among others, that government action was slow:

1. because the typhoon was too big and devastating;

2. because the typhoon struck 41 of the country’s over 80 provinces, and over 10 million people were affected.

3. local government was non-existent because they were victims themselves.

The administration shattered its case when DSWD secretary Dinky Soliman also used the blame-the-local government strategy to explain away the distressing sight of relief goods rotting and being buried in dumpsites.

It will be a mockery of all decency in public office, if after this blatant mismanagement and dishonesty, she is allowed by president Aquino to remain in office, in charge of administering relief and assistance in East Visayas. The international community this time are also complaining and watching.

Using the supersize of Yolanda as an excuse will no longer wash.

In the light of government dishonesty and incompetence, the punishment of Cudia for lying will not instruct cadets and young people to be more honorable.

Many comments on social media point out that there are so many cases of PMA graduates getting involved in scandals. The honor code apparently did not work with them.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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14 Comments

  1. Gregorio Reyes on

    Those cadets who voted him for lying and the one who distorted his decision and change the latter for unanimous decision should be expelled and should haven’t been allowed to graduate. We will be again expecting future Gen. Angelo Reyes, Gregorio Honasan and all other distorded produce who were involved in deep corruption from this batch. Good luck to all of us. “Siklab DIwa – Kaming Kawawa” Lying is not allowed in PMA but Corrupttion is strongly practiced.

  2. hahaha! it’s funny but they are either hypocrite or just plain dumb. EVERYONE lies!Even 5 yrs old does now adays.kakaloka! Infact PMA produce some of the most EFFECTIVE liars in this century!What, with all the corruption involving military officials of which most( if not all) are PMA graduates! What ever mistakes Cudia committed, I dont think he desrves this HYPOCRISY that some PMA officials are showing him.They should give him his diploma because he deserve it and let this boy go on with his life. He is an intelligent boy, I am sure something good & promising will come out in the future.

  3. I would like to speak up for Cadet Cudia. There are many ways that PMAers can prove that they don’t lie, cheat, steal or tolerate wrong among others. So many officials lie, steal and cheat but they have been tolerating them, even bowing down to them. Our country is in such a bad state under very dirty politicians because the PMAers failed to uphold the honor code. And now we see why this is so. They zero in on the mundane but fail to look to the bigger picture. Like some leaders we know, they emphasize on semantics and rhetorics, but fail miserably on their actions. I wish you a better future where you could show them what true honor and valor mean.

  4. Sen. Osmena is correct in describing Pnoy as a good and honest man, but an awful manager. Had he bravely pardoned Cudia for whatever commission or omission he had done, Pnoy could have had earned the “respect” he had lost in mishandling the Yolanda relief operations. The PMAers Generals who openly defended the full application of the HONOR Code against Cudia… are hypocrites, themselves. Said Code provides: “We do not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate others among us who do.”

    Is this code being observed only inside the PMA compound? How about the case of Gen. Garcia who admitted to have amassed P300M and promised to return P130M in exchange for the dropping of the Plunder Case? Of Gen. Ligot? Of Col. Rabosa who admitted to have pocketed money for effectively implementing the PABAON and/ or PASALUGONG to AFP Chief of Staffs? or the Euro Generals? They are all PMAers and now… where is their Honor Code as compared to the harsh punishment imposed on PMA Cadet Cudia?

    If I were Pnoy, I would apply the action taken by Pres. Abraham Lincoln to Private William Scott, who was caught SLEEPING WHILE ON DUTY as a Sentinel. When he was about to be shot by firing squad, Pres. Lincoln pardoned him and ordered him to return to his mother unit. Later on, he died a HERO.

  5. Raymond Stenhouse on

    Wouldn’t it be nice If the Leaders, Senate, Lawmakers and Government Officials had a code of Ethics like the Military Academy. I would say the Filipino people would be a lot better off and handle calamities a lot better.

  6. In Philippine Justice System the”Barabbases” will go scot free, and the innocents like Christ will be put to death, if not jailed for life. And speaking of lies, willful and deceptive ones, are so often served on the table of our political leaders and magistrates to feast on. But there are lies that God condones like the one concocted by Jacob with the help of his mother, Rebecca; the ones the Mexican Jesuit martyr, Bl. Fr. Pro, who had helped escaped from the unjust punishment or death from the hands of the vicious leader of that ignominious period in Mexican history. If we, Filipinos, will continue to keep our jellyfish-stance and not let our voices be heard, or allow the pens of our courageous and heroic writers of MT run dry, so help us, God!

  7. I am surprised that no one has mentioned the obvious, that there is a big backstory here involving this cadet. I don’t know what that is, but I’ve been assured by more than one active or retired officer that the story at face value (i.e., he was expelled for a relatively minor offense) does not make sense, and isn’t the sort of thing that ordinarily happens.

  8. Siony Camacho Bana on

    Good article it’s very informative and hopefully many young generation will have a chance to read what they need to know.

  9. Joseph Padre on

    Someone once said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” So President Aquino, the purest of the pure in the Philippine government casted for all the stone that sealed the dismissal of Algrin Cudia because he was late for 2 minutes. OMG lie about 2 minutes and destroy Cudia’s future? Well he lied. What can you do? Never mind that the former chief justice of the supreme court was impeached on the strength of billions of DAP money disbursed. Never mind that the national government watched typhoon Yolanda demolished the lives of people who once supported the political enemy of the pure president. Did President Aquino lie? Well it can be argued, NO! Was he dishonest? Yes, and the dishonesty was billions worse that the lie about 2 minutes.
    typhon Yolanda allowed to destroy people who supported a political enemy of the pure president

  10. When a woman caught in the act of adultery the Pharisees dragged her before Jesus. They asked him to validate the law of Moses to stone the woman to death. We know how Jesus answered. Sounds similar in form to Cudia’s case, different in gravity, different in response of persons of authority, but similar in attitude of the people who brought the infraction for punishment. In the first love triumph, in the second cry for blood prevailed.
    Truth without charity is the truth of satan asking Jesus to jump from the temple top because he will get hurt, being the son of God. It is the truth of the Pharisee to let his sheep die in the pit and do nothing about it because it is Sabbath. This called legalism.

  11. Abnoy’s definitoin of honesty is certainly different to what the Bible says or a decent human being will practice.