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VAdm. Allan Cusi speaks on the PMA

In September 2019, Fourth Class Cadet Darwin Dormitorio died as a result of blunt traumatic injuries inflicted on him by a number of upperclassmen at the Philippine Military Academy. The hazing scandal resulted in the relief of PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, and the Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro, basically for command responsibility.

After months of investigation and hearings, the Baguio Regional Trial Court Branch 5, headed by Judge Maria Ligaya Itliong-Rivera, issued arrest warrants for six individuals involved in the death of Dormitorio: Lt. Col. Cesar Candelaria, the head of the PMA Station Hospital, and his two subordinates, Maj. Maria Ofelia Beloy, Capt. Flor Apple Apostol; and third-class cadets Shalimar Imperial Jr., Felix Lumbag Jr., and Julius Carlo Tadena. All were charged with murder. The three cadets are also facing charges for violation of the anti-hazing law, while a fourth cadet, Second Class Cadet Christian Zacarias, was recommended for prosecution for slight physical injuries. The Dormitorio family was dissatisfied and “feel deprived of justice.” They are mulling a possible appeal.

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In October last year, Rear Admiral Allan Ferdinand Cusi, PMA Class 1986, the Navy vice commander and head of the Naval Education, Training and Doctrines Command, was designated PMA superintendent. It was his third posting to Fort Del Pilar. As a young officer, he served as a tactical officer supervising members of the cadet corps and years later, he assumed the position of chief of the academy staff. His third time around coincides with his promotion to vice admiral, a rank that sports three stars. It also carries with it perhaps the greatest challenge ever in his military career considering the circumstances under which he assumed the new office. Admiral Cusi is a graduate of the AFP Command and General Staff College, the US Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and holds a master’s degree in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University in Fort McNair, Washington, DC. He is the son of the late Aquilino Cusi, PMA Class 1962.

Let me share with our readers a message that Admiral Cusi recently delivered to his PMA classmates and to the Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines (CCAFP).

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“There’s a difference in being a smart-ass and holding your ground in promoting discernment—the ability to make the right judgment call and the ability to make the hard, tough decisions that really matter. I cannot overemphasize the importance of critical thinking in the CCAFP. That’s the reason why a lot of PMAyers get disillusioned when they graduate and see and experience the real world outside PMA. They were trained in an environment where what they saw and experienced was mostly black and white absolutes versus an environment outside that comes in various shades of gray. This is what is lacking in our training here at the PMA. I am not encouraging you to compromise your values, your ideals, and even your faith, far from it.

“Blind followership or blind allegiance, has no place in the Academy. I want our cadets to develop their core values/principles, not to lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate among us those who do, not only while they are cadets but moreso, after they graduate… and to develop their powers of discernment, their critical thinking skills to serve our people, the right and honorable way.

“The cadets are here to learn and make mistakes, a whole lot of mistakes and failures necessary to mold them into soldiers of courage, loyalty and integrity. This is the kind of soldier, sailor, and airman the Filipino people deserve, the kind of future leaders that will make our country proud. We are not here to develop more followers. We are here to develop and inspire more leaders who are strong in body, mind, spirit and conviction—warriors with a heart and a soul.”

Every individual who steps into a position of great responsibility and is focused on reforming the organization must be prepared to meet with opposition from the defenders of the status quo. One must be a disruptor if he is to make any headway.

Admiral Cusi is a disruptor. He represents change, but he retires in November. The challenge for the Department of National Defense is to find a way to keep him and avoid the “revolving door” sickness that has infected our armed forces.

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TAGS: Allan Cusi, Darwin Dormitorio, PMA, PMA hazing, Ramon J. Farolan, Reveille
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