It appears our fight for Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff P. Cudia to march to the stage to graduate from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) even without academic honors is ALREADY LOST.

But we are invictus. So is Aldrin. They can never impose what they want on us.  They may have conquered us physically, but they will never will spiritually.  

We anchored our fight on God's teachings on us; they insisted their arrogance on a tradition that breaks the Constitution.  Whatever they say, we represent the MORAL SIDE of the controversy; they represent the lies, the cheats and the thieves of the honors they do not deserve. We stand on the evidence of innocence; they stood blindly for the Honor Committee despite the evidence to the contrary.

Yes, we pinned all our hopes on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III firstly because we have faith in him as the Most Moral President we ever have had, secondly because almost everybody else among the PMAers, except for a few principled men, are close-minded cavaliers, and thirdly because P-Noy has the final say being the Commander-In-Chief.   

BUT HE CHOSE NOT TO SAY.  This means a physical defeat for us all who believe in the innocence of this young man who in our eyes is the best example of what a soldier is.  He has shown bravery to break the tradition of resignation when pronounced guilty by the Honor Committee.

Yes, at the time this is being written at 7:10 a.m. of 16 March 2014, there are still a few hours left before our fight for Cadet Cudia to graduate will become moot and academic.  

So that we all do not know what happens until the ceremonial playing of the National Anthem signals the start of the commencement exercises.  

Of course, as the Commander-In-Chief of the military who has the rank of Five-Star General of the Armed Forces, the President has the discretion to change his mind up to the final minutes before the graduation ceremonies start today.

Francisco "Frankie" Tuyay reported for Manila Standard Today that in the afternoon of Saturday, a day before the graduation, President P-Noy summoned Cadet Cudia and his parents to the Presidential Mansion in Baguio City.   

Frankie reported nobody among the top brass knew what was discussed in that two-hour meeting that started at 4:00 p.m.   But the family of the cadet said they were told by the Highest Official of the Land to formalize their appeal.   Which means Cadet Cudia cannot graduate today; although the logic of non sequitur gives us a ray of hope. (See this link for Manila Standard Today story: http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/03/16/cudia-in-11th-hour-plea-aquino-at-pma/)

Inquirer reported, citing Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, that the President decided to withhold his decision on the appeal of Cadet Cudia to graduate along with his class and instructed General Emmanuel Bautista, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP), to investigate the case of Cudia.  Inquirer added that the President required the cadet to formalize his appeal in writing for his review.  (See this link for the Inquirer story: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/585900/aquino-defers-decision-on-cudia-asks-family-to-put-appeal-in-writing) 

Cadet Cudia chose to fight for innocence to be the first to do so.  In fact his fight has generated a one big slap on the faces of us all. That we are now awakened to reality that there must be a drastic change in order to satisfy the conscience of the Filipino.

To prove innocence, Cadet Cudia has been anchoring his arguments on the following:

1) The fact that the vote was 8-1, eight for "guilty" and one for "not guilty";

2) That the procedure of the Honor Committee requires unanimous vote of guilty or a 9-0 verdict to convict;

3) That there is nothing in the Honor System procedure that allows "chambering" or subjecting the dissent, who was Cadet First Class Lagura, to pressure with the objective of compelling the dissenter to change vote;

4) That when the vote is done, it must be fait accompli, meaning the authority of the Honor Committee voters is lost upon the final act of voting;

5) That acts that prejudice cannot be presumed to be authorized just because there is nothing that prohibits; doing otherwise violates the due process clause and the doctrine that power cannot be presumed;

6) That a review of the case will show the lack of clarity of the charge that is designed to trap the answering cadet in whatever way he answered;

7) That there was ill-motive demonstrated by the fact that in the first two of a series of three Honor violation charges Cudia was acquitted;

8) That the second charge was initiated by the Honor Committee chairman;

9) That the Honor Committee chairman, Cadet First Class Mogol, actively involved himself in the preliminary investigation and in the voting procedure when propriety dictated him to inhibit and relinquish the powers of the chairmanship temporarily to another who was neutral; and 

10) That First Class Cadet Raguindin who was running second to Cadet Cudia in the honors for the Navy did not inhibit from participation in the preliminary investigation.

However, we who fight for this cause for justice insist: ALL IS NOT LOST YET.

We take comfort because what happened is a victory of sort.  

If P-Noy decides to defer, we can anyway have more than sufficient time to prove that what the Honor Committee did was blatantly erroneous.   We have already filed our petition before the Supreme Court and this means that we will have more focus in the main issues there.  Although the TRO we ask from the SC is now moot and moribund, the substance of the controversy is yet to be decided by the High Tribunal. 

We win also because we have opened the Honor System proceedings to the eyes of the Filipino public.

We win because we have compelled all the PMAers, including those who manage the PMA, to rethink for the Filipino and will consider reforming the Honor System.

We win also because because they now know that it is the people's money that finances the cadets schooling and they know that the PMA is the people's foundation of State Security and Defense, although we know that our Armed Forces being led by PMAers are looked upon by the world as like children battling against the giant in China that is obviously more knowledgeable in military tactics although its officers did not graduate from the PMA.  China also is fully armed with all the weapons its soldiers need.

We believe the PMA will follow the Honor System of the US Military Academy at West Point, considering that the PMA has been using the old model of the honor system of the USMA.   It was General Douglas MacArthur as the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Armed Forces in 1935 who introduced the Honor Code and the old model of the Honor System at the PMA. 

Following the scandal in 1951 that rocked the USMA when cadets cheated to help the West Point Football Team win and the scandal in 1976 when more than half of the junior class cheated in their homework, the honor system at West Point was drastically changed from a pure cadets' undertaking to one where there are military lawyers assigned to oversee every stage of the entire proceedings.

From then up to now at West Point, there is one military lawyer assigned in the formulation of the statement of the honor charge to make it clearly understood by the cadet being charged and the honor hearing board members, with the objective of giving all intelligent discussions of issues.

At West Point, another military lawyer is assigned as the counsel of the cadet being charged during the trial but the cadet can hire a private counsel if he chooses, and there is also a separate military lawyer assisting the Honor Hearing Board during the trial.

At West Point, there is also assigned a military lawyer reviewing the board's decision for the Commandant and another military lawyer for the Superintendent tasked to review the Commandant's recommendation and the records of the case before submitting the final report to the Secretary of the US Army. 

At West Point, all the decisions of the Honor Hearing Board are reviewed automatically by the legal office of the Commandant and the Superintendent and the review requires them to look at the whole case records de novo, which means all the evidence presented will be reviewed without requiring the cadet concerned to submit new evidence.

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