Lawyer offers solution to Cudia case

Posted at 03/17/14 3:55 PM

MANILA - Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said “compassionate justice” should be used to finally resolve the case of Cadet First Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia.

In an article entitled “How do you solve a problem like Cudia,” Macalintal focused on the legal aspect of the case of the cadet who failed to join the graduation rites of his mistahs in the 2014 Siklab Diwa class of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

“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,” Macalintal said.

Cudia was earlier dismissed from the academy for allegedly violating the academy’s Honor Code when he supposedly lied when he got into class two minutes late.

The Honor Code prescribes that a cadet should “not lie, cheat, steal.”

Cudia accused the honor committee of grave abuse of discretion after its members changed its 8-1 vote to 9-0.

After his appeals were dismissed, he went to the Supreme Court seeking an intervention.

President Benigno Aquino III is also now studying his case.

Absent a final decision on the matter, Cudia was not able to join the symbolical rites on Sunday in Baguio City.

Macalintal said, however, that these two modes of appeals have been rendered moot and academic when Cudia failed to join yesterday’s ceremonies.

“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,” he said.

While the Office of the President can still offer hope for Cudia, a decision might be risky, he said.

“[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…,” he said.

Macalintal said that if the decision of the honor committee is reversed, it is already like saying that it 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,” he said.

This is why “compassionate justice” is the only solution, he said.

In several instances, the highest court of the land decided because of this principle, he said. A previous SC decision dictates 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.”

This should also be done in Cudia’s case, he said.

“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,” he said.