Former AFP chief Angelo Reyes suicide nixes reactions

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, MANILA, February 8, 2011-The controversial former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief and Defense Secretary Angelo Tomas Reyes, 65 years old committed suicide by shooting himself early this morning in front of the grave of his mother at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City, Tuesday.


Reyes was immediately rushed to the Quirino Hospital at about 7:45 a.m. to revive him but the victims has no vital signs and already dead according to Colonel Boogie de leon who was a former administrative officer of Reyes while the members of the latter’s family remain silent for comment about the incident.


Earlier, Reyes said that he could not take anymore the smear campaign against his name and his family on the congressional investigations on the alleged AFP financial irregularities, saying-don’t do it to my family.


Reyes allegedly received Php50 million in “send-off” money when he retired as part of the military tradition going back decades, a former budget officer told a Senate panel last Thursday.


Initial investigation disclosed that Reyes asked his sons, his aide and bodyguard to leave him for a while and after a few seconds a gun shot was then heard with Reyes falling to the ground with blood over him.


Relative to this, Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona confirmed Reyes has died from gunshot wound to the heart and was proclaimed dead on arrival at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, adding that the doctors tried to resuscitate Reyes who was brought to the hospital at 7:30 a.m. from Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City where he visited the grave of his mother.


The doctors reported that Reyes has already no pulse and no breath. The doctors on duty resuscitated Reyes, however after 45 minutes at 8:32 a.m. he was dead.


As of this report, Police Senior Supt. Francisco Soria Manalo of the Eastern Police District said that Reyes allegedly used a caliber .45 hand gun that caused him to sustain a gunshot wound to the heart and an external wound to the back.


The Scene of the Crime Operatives recovered one empty shell of cal. 45. and one book on Donald Trump titled “Trump: The Art of the Deal” while the authorities are still conducting meticulous investigation and waiting for the autopsy report to be provided by the PNP-Crime Laboratory regarding Reyes before they can make statement about the case. He assured that the PNP will provide the full details regarding Reyes death.


Senator Gringo Honasan who is a Mistah of Reyes in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), appealed to the media to make sure the veracity of their report and not by trial by publicity. Honasan also extend his deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Reyes.


Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan was deeply saddened by the turn of events to the late Secretary Reyes saying that it is tragic that what started out as an investigation in aid of legislation has led to his apparent suicide.


Kiko lamented that death is not a graceful exit to such a distinguished officer as Reyes, a more honorable way would have been to come out with the truth and win back the admiration of his fellow soldiers. This is now the challenge other generals are facing.


He gave also his condolences to the bereaved family where he stressed that in the light of this very sad incident, he urged his colleagues to expedite the investigation on the irregularities within the AFP. To bring the system of corruption to light is to give justice and meaning to Reyes’ death.


“Reyes is a victim of a corrupt system,” he said, adding that if his death should have any meaning, it should lead to real reforms in the armed forces in particular, the entire government bureaucracy in general and we should not let this incident deter our efforts in curbing pervasive corruption.


Kiko lamented that this brings a degree of urgency to PNoy’s advocacy against corruption. For how many sad stories must our countrymen be subjected to before we see true justice being served? Justice cannot be served this way; not through trial by publicity, but by a strong justice system.


Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. requested the Senate Blue Ribbon Chairman Teofisto Guingona III to temporary stop the investigation regarding the “payola and pabaon system” issue at the AFP in respect to Reyes and re-scheduled it after Reyes burial. During the formal consensus in the Senate, Majority floor leader Senator Vicente Tito Sotto, Senator Chiz Escudero and Gringo Honasan supported the request of Revilla to defer the hearing in the senate blue ribbon committee for temporary suspension.


Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said that he did not feel responsible for Reyes untimely demise and was not sorry about his feud with Reyes, adding that he did not also agree to Sen. Honasan’s statement that Reyes was subjected to at trial by publicity that could have been one of the reasons why the former committed suicide.


The senator reacted when asked by newsmen about the phone call of Arroyo to Reyes at the height of the Senate investigation into the alleged military corruption, saying that maybe that’s an angle that we could pursue after we have mourned the passing of General Reyes.


Reyes was a graduate of the PMA Class ’66 and became as the AFP chief during the time of former President Joseph Estrada, and secretary of defense, interior and local government, and energy during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2001 to 2003.


Patricio Adaza, spokesman of Reyes calls the public to respect the family of Reyes and give their family time to air their side and be fair in giving information about Reyes.


The remains of Reyes is scheduled to be brought to Camp Aguinaldo to give him full military honor according to AFP spokesman Gen. Jose Mabanta, saying that the whole AFP is shocked and saddened by the passing of Gen. Reyes and condoled with the immediate family as to this incident. This is a deep blow to the ongoing investigation and all the members of the AFP and the citizenry quest for the truth.

“In the light of this incident, we hope Congress and Senate can expedite this proceeding to ensure immediate enactment of laws in furtherance of good governance measure for the whole Armed Forces,” Mabanta said.


Meanwhile, the human rights group KARAPATAN-Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights commiserates and condoles with the family and expressed regrets, saying that one uncovered corruption within the AFP has been smeared by blood.


KARAPATAN spokesperson Jigs Clamor said that Reyes death should bear on the conscience of the AFP particularly its officers corps, adding that the AFP leadership should rethink its role in society if his death would have relevance.


He added that he regret one unsolved mystery in the corrupt practices within the AFP, the on-going investigations into the AFP slush funds should be pursued in the interest of truth, justice, government accountability, and genuine civilian supremacy over the military.

“With the serious charges hurled against him, he took his life upon his own hand rather than be devoured by shame for life.  We leave it to the AFP to ponder whether it was honorable or not.  But we hope the AFP honor their own by truly serving the people,” Clamor furthered. (Jason de Asis)

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