Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ex-Philippine military chief kills self

An undated photo shows former Philippine military chief General Angelo Reyes (with ex-national police chief Panfilo Lacson, former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and President Gloria Arroyo, among other government officials) during a visit to the southern province of Sulu. Reyes, who is facing a Senate investigation over P50 million he was accused of receiving P50 million during his stint as Armed Forces chief, killed himself on Monday, February 9, 2011. Reyes, who also served as army and defense chief, strongly denied all allegations against him. (Mindanao Examiner Photo).

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 8, 2011) – A former Philippine military chief facing investigations into alleged corruption in the armed forces shot himself in front of his mother’s tomb in Manila.

Police said former General Angelo Reyes, who was a key figure in the ouster of President Joseph Estrada in 2001, died in hospital. Reyes was being investigated by the Senate after a former military finance officer claimed he gave P50 million to the 65-year old combat veteran.

Reyes had strongly denied all allegations against him and said the senate investigation was politically motivated. His wife and children were also accused of receiving money during Reyes’ stint as military chief. Among those investigating Reyes was Estrada’s son, Jose Pimentel Ejercito, Jr.

One military officer in Mindanao said Reyes was humiliated many times during the senate investigations despite his repeated denials of the accusations against him and his family.

“The true loser in the ongoing senate hearings about the “pasalubong” and “pabaon” for chiefs of staff is the Armed Forces of the Philippines itself as an institution. As the grandstanding senators alternately and collectively pounce on Generals Carlos Garcia, Jacinto Ligot and (Angelo) Reyes on live television coverage. They don’t just destroy the general’s reputations, but they unwittingly destroy the morale of the soldiers on the grounds who are trying to preserve democracy and our government which these lawmakers also represent.”

“They also destroy the image of the Armed Forces of the Philippines which has been exerting all efforts to cleanse its system. Insurgency is the eventual winner in all these. The enemies of the state, specifically the communist and Muslim rebels are laughing by the sidelines, awaiting the demise of the Armed Forces as an institution if these grandstanding do not stop. It is better to have the charges be filed in courts, as most have already been filed, and let the law take its due course,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

“Pasalubong” refers to money given to military chiefs on their assumption as Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, while “pabaon” is the money given when they retire.

Garcia and Ligot were both accused of corruption. Aside from Reyes, former military chiefs Generals Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu were also accused of receiving tens of millions of pesos in “pasalubong” and “pabaon.”

Soldiers stationed in the southern Philippines were also shock upon learning that Reyes, a decorated officer who served as military commander in Mindanao, committed suicide.

“He was a good man and had fallen victim to political vendetta. We feel so sad and sorry for his good family,” one army soldier said.

Reyes, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, served as commander of the Southern Command in Mindanao and later served as Army chief and Defense secretary during Estrada and President Gloria Arroyo’s time.

The Department of National Defense said Reyes role in the ouster of Estrada prevented bloodshed. “General Angelo Reyes led the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines in a collective decision to heed to the call of the Filipino people for a genuine reform in society and governance (EDSA People Power 2).

“He was able to maintain the unity and integrity of the Armed Forces, thus, preventing bloodshed and chaos. That momentous decision led to a peaceful transition of national leadership and ushered a new hope for truth, honor and decency in public service,” it said.

Reyes was an adopted son of the City of Zamboanga. (Mindanao Examiner)

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