by: Christian Aligo
Baguio City’s pride Philippine Military Academy (PMA) does not always give the city a good reason to be mentioned in national newspapers and news shows. Sometimes, it’s a gloomy day for the school that trains the country’s next top patriots.
Last week, the academy held its graduation rites despite national controversies involving one of its supposed-to-be-graduating student and alumni.
Two Top Students Are Cordillerans
Among the top students of the PMA Siklab Diwa Class 2014 are proud Cordillerans.
Billy Casibi Codiam, top three, comes from Tanudan, Kalinga while Alvin Kantala Balangcod comes from Kapangan, Benguet.
Both had similar stories before joining PMA.
In his essays, Balangcod expressed that he was once a working student. He started to take a degree in Criminology as a scholar of former Benguet congressman Samuel Dangwa before taking the entrance exam for PMA.
On the other hand, Codiam finished a degree in Political Science as a scholar of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) before deciding to push through with military studies.
The two will join the Philippine Army.
It’s Final: Cadet Cudia is Not Graduating
It all started when the sister of PMA cadet Aldrin Jeff Cudia posted a picture of the cadet on Facebook with caption pointing out PMA’s alleged unfair judgment on the cadet’s case.
The post says that the cadet was not permitted to graduate after a two-minute late. The post became viral, capturing national headline bringing the attention of the Filipino masses to Baguio’s own PMA.
Even if everyone was talking about it and everyone seems to put sympathy on the side of Cudia, PMA still decided not to reverse its earlier decision against Cudia.
According to PMA, Cudia violated the Honor Code by lying on the real reason why he was late in November.
Cudia lost and left the PMA compound afterwards.
Remember the Pabaon Officials and Other PMA Alumni?
Before Cudia was the star of headlines, many alumni of the academy already won national publicity for negative issues that directly tainted the reputation of PMA.
After the Cudia controversy set aflame, a PMA alumnus furnished a letter to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office.
Retired Brig. Gen. Jesus Dizon, who belongs to PMA Class 1951, wrote:
“May I appeal to the entire Filipino people to remember that the Philippine Military Academy is your institution. It is the primary source of professional military leaders who are sworn to lead and sacrifice their lives, if need be, to protect our country and people against all threats, including to respond to natural calamities and disasters.”
Dizon scored to not tamper with PMA’s honor system which is in line with the principle of human rights.
However, netizens still question the credibility of the Honor System when in fact PMA alumni have been charged with serious offenses that may be considered violations to the set of principles soldiers should abide with.
Recently, one of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) member was allegedly caught cloning automated teller machine (ATM) cards. The accused Raphale Marcial, a Navy Officer and graduate of PMA Class 2008, was arrested by cops in Makati.
According to Malacanang, there will be no special treatment for Marcial.
Moreover in 2011, AFP officials and other high-ranking military officers were involved in the “pasalubong” and “pabaon” allegations. This led controversial official Angelo Reyes, one of the accused, to commit suicide.
People try their luck within the territory of PMA. Some finish with flying colors; others come home with sad stories. If there is one thing that makes headlines created by PMA students and alumni teach us, that would be the realization that patriots- whether under the Honor System or not- are also human beings who commit mistakes.