On February 8, 2011, Former Sec. Angelo Reyes committed suicide infront of her mother’s tomb. A shot in the chest that went straight to his heart took his life. At the same time, the foul-smelling dead fish of corruption in the AFP has been spreading like wild fire in the forest. Reyes was in question for allegedly receiving government money during his stay in his Defense Chief post or maybe before that as a military officer. He was a general and alumnus of PMA.
When he died, sympathy flooded the country. Various officials say that he was a loss and that he gave a lot of contributions to the nation. Some also said that he was a victim of trial by publicity and he was framed up. Some critics have become sympathizers after lambasting Reyes as corrupt. Many said that what he did was a supreme sacrifice and honorable thing. And so he was laid to the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
After the incident I asked: What makes somebody who committed suicide a hero? The heroes in the country were killed in war or executed because of martyrdom although I know that the definition of heroism doesn’t only require those kinds of deaths. The government currently says that OFW’s are the new breed of heroes. There are also heroes who saved lives of other people but still are able to save themselves from getting killed.
There’s one character I know who is considered a hero after committing a suicide. It’s the fictional character Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) from the movie Armageddon. He detonated the bomb, sacrificing his life, so that the asteriod will be cut into two and won’t hit the earth. But it was just a movie with all the exactness of events that came up with all the people cheering after.
I know that heroism comes with a price and I know that it takes a brave and courageous man to do become a hero. But heroes who dedicated their lives have an ultimate goal: to help and to serve others or for the greater good/glory. As I watched several close people, colleagues of Angelo Reyes who were giving speech about what he has done to the country, it can really be concluded that he has given his life for public service. He has dedicated himself in the military to the different offices opened by Presidential Decrees and different cabinet posts as well. There’s really no doubt to such service to the public. But committing suicide, what a sad end to a good life. I really believe it is NEVER an honorable thing to do such act in the midst of a controversy involving your own name.
It’s not a supreme sacrifice. How can it be a sacrifice when there’s an anomaly and you refuse to face it? How can it be honorable when you know the truth and you can’t say it? If Reyes were innocent, the hell what other people will think. It doesn’t matter. You SAY you are innocent. The world posits to be prejudicial. When Hubert Webb was sentenced to life imprisonment, he didn’t care what others say. He was firm in saying he’s innocent until he was freed.
Maybe Reyes has done good in the public. Maybe he has also done something bad as well. Well that’s part of the definition of a human being – vulnerable, imperfect and prone to sins. But shutting up and not telling the truth, it’s also the same as lying. Instead of making the issues clearer, the suicide raised more questions regarding AFP’s corruption. I’ve heard Teresita Ang-See who vouched for Reyes’ undoubted public service in Anti-Kidnapping and such. She said that it is impossible for Reyes to steal the money because of his ‘good’ background. But you have to think that we are humans. We also commit mistakes. That’s inevitable.
When I heard that Reyes committed suicide, the only thing that came out of my head was- GUILTY. In one of TV Patrol’s episodes, Reyes cannot answer straight to Korina’s questions regarding his involvement in the AFP corruption. His answers were short and vague like, “Wala akong kinalaman dyan.” (I have nothing to do with it.) He cannot further elaborate his findings and whereabouts during that time. In the same episode, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago called him “gago” (stupid) for saying that he has nothing to do with the corruption issue. And I think, the blunt senator has a point. You are the Defense Chief (like a president) and the Comptroller (treasurer) has been stealing the money and keeping it for the higher officials and their wives. It’s very impossible for the Chief to miss out findings of loss budget (say, hundred of millions of allocated budget) and just say “Hindi ko alam ang mga ‘yan.” (I don’t know about it.) The senator was right in calling him stupid in that sense because Filipinos are not stupid when he said that.
Now there are a lot of mourners. And there are also a lot who pity Reyes. It’s part of the Filipino culture to sympathize and FORGET about the bigger picture. But again I say, Reyes’ death is not a supreme sacrifice.
Last January, in my pay slip, P8,000 of my salary went to tax for the government. And I’m going to pay my tax for the next years of my life. I’m only one of the millions of Filipinos who work hard to earn money for a living and to support a family. Instead of having the whole money to have a little more for budgeting my daily life, it goes to the government which we expect to do its role in the society. That’s why I think the Filipinos have the right to question the credibility of the government and to question where the hell do our taxes go.
It’s not only an issue about money and life of a General. It’s an issue of principle and transparency. The issue started from some sort of “Mock Battle of Manila” in the Ombudsman after a shitty plea bargaining agreement with a corrupt comptroller. We are getting to the bottom of the issue and it shouldn’t stop. Penalize all those involved and remove the medals that they don’t deserve. While the soldiers don’t have the right gear and uniform for their war and old weapons and few bullets at hand, these Generals are enjoying the people’s money by buying expensive houses and luxurious cars. Where in the world are the consciences and souls of these people? My friend Eddie said, these people are so greedy they stole money too much for their lifetime. How greedy. Now, is that something honorable? And now the truth is being covered up? Wake up!
As I was reflecting, I realized that Reyes’ suicide was very similar to what Adolf Hitler did when he was about to lose. Both of them were honorable in their respected positions although Reyes didn’t intend to kill millions of Jews. But instead of facing the truth, they chickened out and killed themselves after committing mistakes they didn’t want to correct.
When I had my GREATWK, we studied a boring “Great Work” of Emile Durkheim, the book “SUICIDE.” We discussed the different kinds of suicide for 1/3 of the trimester (how boring!). Anyway, a lot of Reyes’ supporters think that what he did was ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE. This suicide happens when an individual is expected to kill himself on behalf of the society like soldier in a military service. But I beg to differ. I’d rather consider it FATALISTIC SUICIDE. This suicide happens when a person prefers to die than to live within his society like preferring to die rather to be in prison with constant abuse which prohibits him from pursuing his desires.
I would want Sec. Angelo Reyes to rest in peace. Death of person makes people especially loved ones sad. But I think there are lot of barriers to be in peace. Here are some of my realizations:
1. Angelo Reyes’ death will not make any change in the corrupt government. It’s another one wasted life. He’s a victim of corruption that ate him.
2. What he did was a selfish move. He only thought of himself and forgot about God’s love, his family, his friends and the whole Philippine nation waiting for the truth.
3. His suicide might have been triggered by guilt, like what Judas did after betraying Jesus (like him betraying the country) although both of them have served their masters.
4. Good educational background doesn’t make you a morally upright person. Harvard diploma doesn’t give it. Grades are just numbers. Values come from the person. It comes from within.
5. Heroes don’t kill themselves in the middle of a fight or hide from the truth.
6. And lastly, as what I’ve learned in TREDONE with Dr. Arnold Monera, suicide is a one way ticket to hell.