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Thoughts on the Suicide of a General

February 19, 2011

I am writing this as an ordinary citizen of the Philippines; someone who loathe politics because of corrupt politicians and government officials; who stopped voting because I felt cheated when my vote was not counted [the polling place where I voted reported 200+ against zero votes in favor of the ruling Mayor then here in Pasay City. I voted for the opposition. Had they reported that one voted against him, I would have thought that that was my vote. I was so disappointed. I stopped voting for long and transferred to U.P. where I worked and lived in the campus with my brother and parents. I voted there until we left the campus because of my brother’s death.

Why do I, as an apolitical person compelled to write on this matter, you may ask. I don’t really know. I just feel I have to be out with my thoughts on the recent suicide of Gen. Angelo Reyes who was accused of receiving “send-off money” and the like. A reaction to what is happening no matter how distant I am or however apathetic I feel to what is happening in Philippine politics. No one can escape the media news everyday on corruption issues. I feel the need to react on why he opted to commit suicide rather than face the accusers probably because I hoped that as an insider, he could have helped in providing more needed information to expose real big fishes involved in military corruption. To be honest, my immediate and instinctive reaction when I heard the news on his suicide was: “Nokonsyensya siguro. The accusations must be true. If not, he would have fought with all his might to counter all allegations and accusations to protect his valued reputation.” That was my reaction, an ordinary citizen’s reaction to a sensational happening. As public property, government servants and officials are subject to public scrutiny and opinion because of their responsibility to the people they vowed to serve. But I was wrong. More than the conscience’s doings, it was the sense of destroying / trampling his HONOR that pushed him to a tragic end. And I base it from the final statements he made before he died. [Click to read: the-final-words-of-angelo-t-reyes]

The following are my reactions to purportedly Gen. Reyes’ statements published in the above article of Ms. Malou Mangahas of PCIJ which would have been too long to put right there as a reaction or if posted under comments.

To start with, some say that his suicide was his form of sacrifice to protect his family and institution [PMA/Philippine Military Academy]. Was it?

Part of his final statement reads:

Living life without honor is a tragedy bigger than death itself.

That I think explains clearly why he chose death over life— living life without honor is a tragedy. He felt dishonored, and publicly disgraced in the senate hearings supposedly centered on Comptroller Garcia.  But his suicide act appeared to me more than anything as that of protecting and thinking of himself, above anyone or anything else. Had he not, he would have thought of the people he would leave behind.

There must have been some feeling of guilt or remorse as he admitted to not being guiltless but “not as evil” as he said:

I might not be guiltless/faultless, but I am not as evil as some would like to portray.

Indeed, he valued hIs honor. Was it still part of the arrogance felt and referred to by those who used to deal with him? And why on the tomb? It was indeed so dramatic, and cinematic even, to have committed the suicide there. I could understand his being there though as I also go to the tomb of my parents at times to unload heavy feelings, and when I have problems. It lightens my load, the same manner when I toss and pass my burden to God. By doing it on the tomb of his mother, I could imagine his dilemna: To Be or Not To Be [alive and fight to preserve his honor and to continue in helping to protect his family and the PMA institution against allegations].

He also said:

We are now in the situation where my honor and the family name are at stake. My family, my children, my grandchildren could say with a lot of truthfulness and pride that in the family, we value honor and integrity. Strength to live it and the courage to face up to the truth. This is the legacy I would like to leave with them.

Unfortunately, he did not really have the courage “to face up to the truth” when he finally decided to shoot himself. By committing suicide, he ran away from whatever liability he talked about, and from the consequences the corruption he walked in would probably bring to his Honor.

I speak the truth not to whistle-blow or to seek neither immunity nor protection nor to escape from any form of liability. As a matter of fact, I speak the truth to accept responsibility for whatever liability I may have.

How would I interpret his commission of suicide except that of acceptance of his so-called liability, and that he really thought more of himself than his family? He thought of HONOR more than how aggrieved would his family be, and not how weak they would be without him. I saw how he was loved by his family. How bitter they were against those who maligned him, and his honor. But without him now, how could he clean that challenged honor? Had he guiltless, he could have fought tooth and nail to protect that honor, his name, his family above all.

I did not invent corruption. I walked into it. Perhaps my first fault was in having accepted aspects of it as a fact of life.

He used the word “fault” or “mali” or “kamalian” in Filipino. By accepting the regularity of corruption’s existence and by walking into it himself, he became one in the process. As Sen. Trillanes said, he could have stopped it when he was the Chief of Staff. But it persisted until the case of Comptroller Garcia was brought into the open. Before he walked in or while he walked into corruption, Gen. Reyes was serving the country for many years. The problem was, he did not expose what he witnessed, and eventually became part of the system.

And by admitting that his fault was that accepting aspects of corruption as a fact of life, the idea of returning offers of bribes seems difficult to believe.

In my 48 years of public service, I have tried to live up to the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. Whether it’s my assignment with the AFP-RSBS or with the Anti-Smuggling Task Force, I never received any offers of bribes; in fact, I returned them.

All the charges against him would not have come out and prospered, no one could have questioned him and charged him against corruption, above all, would not have resulted to depression leading to act of suicide if nothing of the sort really happened.

Filipino people easily forgives and forgets. But committing suicide did not give any closure to corruption issues he was accused of, or allegedly a part of. How I wished he opted to live for his family at least who would for sure given him all the strength and support that they could muster, for the country and the people to know more about what he knew beyond what Lt. Col. Rabusa exposed, for his exposure of truth that could have added to restudying, cleansing, if not, demolishing of the rotten “pabaon” system.

CASE CLOSED! Only to Gen. Reyes would it apply… I pray that his family will not be subjected to the repercussions of the “liabilities” he was referring to. But if they are really not party to it, they do not have to worry. They can hold their heads up high and look straight to the eyes of the accusers.

Overall, I find Gen. Reyes as a VICTIM of that damned, decayed system of corruption allowed to grow and flourish by the powerful among our so-called government SERVANTS who actually serve themselves not our people. It is getting to be very clear now why many of them want to stay in POWER, and how the hocus focus is being done with the people’s money. The probe should not end when Gen. Reyes ended his life. On the contrary, it more of signalled the many worms that will come out of the can. They do horribly exist. Especially so, because I literally do fear and hate worms.

It is most unfortunate that Gen. Reyes who admittedly walked into corruption found himself in a quagmire.

These are thoughts and musings of a very ordinary Filipino citizen…on a rare, and not so ordinary event like the suicide of a general.

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