CHR launches probe into PMA cadet’s dismissal

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has begun an investigation of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) after the parents of graduating Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia complained on Feb. 26 the academy violated their son’s right to due process when it dismissed him for breaking the academy’s Honor Code.
Lawyer Harold Kub-aron, CHR Cordillera regional director, said the rights agency had also asked the National Bureau of Investigation to examine a device which was turned over to the CHR that was supposedly a listening device hidden beside Cudia’s bed in his quarters.
“If this turns out to be a recording device, then we will have to prosecute the PMA for violating Cudia’s privacy,” Kub-aron told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Monday.
The primary issue is whether Cudia’s dismissal, based solely on the decision made by his peers, was a constitutionally valid process, Kub-aron said.
He said Cudia’s parents believed a committee composed of cadets did not have the same authority as the PMA itself or a court, so its decisions should not be the only basis for their son’s dismissal.
A PMA alumnus, who asked not to be named, said the PMA lost several cases filed in regular courts by dismissed cadets in the 1970s “because the courts ruled the honor committee decisions were not constitutionally valid.”
Honor committees are convened when a cadet becomes the subject of an honor report (a complaint or a recording of an incident which suggests a transgression).
Cudia was found guilty of lying because he gave a slightly different excuse for a two-minute class tardiness from the reasons given by four other cadets, according to academy sources.
But Cudia accused the honor court of violating its own rules when it voted twice on his case in order to achieve a unanimous conviction. The new honor report would have required a separate round of honor committee investigations by a new set of cadets.
Some of the cadets who voted to convict Cudia are scheduled to meet with CHR officials this week, Kub-aron said.