How do you solve a problem like Cudia
By Atty. Romulo B. Macalintal
Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia’s petition before the Supreme Court and his intention to appeal to the Office of the President that he be included in the March 16 commencement exercises of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) have been rendered moot and academic when the said graduation rites were held without any action from the Supreme Court and President Aquino on his aforesaid petition and appeal.
Recourse to the Supreme Court may only be allowed if there is no other appeal or any adequate remedy available to an aggrieved party in the ordinary course of law. Since Cudia had already manifested his intention to appeal to the President who directed the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to investigate Cudia’s case, the Supreme Court may no longer entertain his petition since he has the remedy of appeal to the office of the president.
But the bigger question is will the Office of the President or any court for that matter interfere or reverse a decision of the PMA Honor Committee on an issue that has been traditionally resolved by their peers or fellow cadets/cadettes? For sure, there will be demoralization in the PMA if its decision is reversed by higher authorities since it would be tantamount to saying that the PMA Honor Committee committed grave and serious errors in deciding the Cudia case.
This will certainly affect past decisions of the Honor Committee as well as its actions in future cases it will resolve. For the committee to be reversed on Cudia’s case will open the floodgates to appeals from its decisions, political interventions and/or reversal of decisions based on emotions.
The better remedy is for the PMA take a second look into Cudia’s case and be guided by the Supreme Court’s decision in various cases where it reversed itself on the ground of “compassionate justice” and granted judicial clemency to some judges previously dismissed for gross misconduct or ignorance of the law. The Supreme Court said that while it has been “unsparing in wielding the rod of discipline against members of the Judiciary who fall short of the exacting standards decreed by the Code of Judicial Conduct” there are “certain significant facts that spur us to consider his plea for judicial clemency and reexamine with compassion the penalty imposed on him…(for) justice without compassion is no justice at all.” (Patricio Junio vs Judge Pedro Rivera, A.M. No. MTJ-91-565, October 5, 2005).
And so it should be in Cudia’s case which should be decided solely by his peers. After all, he does not deny the fact that he lied which caused his dismissal from the PMA. His only complaint is the harshness of the penalty imposed upon him which could still be reconsidered by the Honor Committee by rendering a compassionate justice that could give him a chance to redeem himself and save the image of the PMA as a revered and well-respected military institution of the country.