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Essay: Distorting the PMA's honor code

  • February 18, 2011

Why do the generals feel the need to defend one of their own by evading the fact of rampant corruption in the military? 
Why do they invoke the PMA honor code to defend one of their own - "We, the cadets, do not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate among us those who do so" - when what is being alleged is the violation of those very same set of principles?

Why do they undervalue and marginalize a younger military alumnus at every turn whose agenda is to uphold the honor code?
Is it really about honor? Or is it really something different, and perhaps, something sinister?
I wonder: What can we reckon in our defiant wisdom to make these obstinate questions transparent?
All I know is that every time I try to make sense of these questions I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
For me, these questions represent two rather simple issues. First, they represent a distorted view of the honor code. Distortion is the cant of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the tribute that turns vice into virtue.

Second, they represent a misdirection of honor into loyalty. Misdirection is the fodder of groupthink. Groupthink is the vernacular of the brotherhood made for blind obedience. How is it then that our elders who were schooled in an honor system based on ideals that define what constitutes honorable behavior acquire a cavalier attitude towards alleged lying, cheating, and stealing? How is it then that our elders who were trained in some of the best schools of the world turn into instruments of our own oppression? 

It is not a pleasant feeling to have, thinking about our elders in this manner. It conjures bad memories -- memories that transport us to a terrible era when many of our military elders were prostituted into slack-jawed, goose-stepping, lickspittle, and numb-brained adherents of a corrupt strongman; memories of many of our civil elders’ uncritical support, which culminated in the zombie-like spell of a cult personality; memories of many of our political elders’ partaking in the looting of billions of dollars of embezzled public funds 

Many of them are still hanging around in the corridors of power, unrepentant and living la vida loca.
So today, when we hear how the generals respond to the challenge from Trillanes about idealizing one of their questionable heroic figures, are we completely surprised? Or are we, at some level, expecting something like this to happen?
Indeed, the strongman is gone but his demented values live on. - GMA News
The author is an urban and regional planning consultant and a professor of urban sociology and urban planning at California State University, East Bay. He has written books on the American Urban Regional Experience and Perspectives on Urban Society. Email:

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