Monday, February 14, 2011

Foul Taste on Ina-Tay's Mouth

Like most Pinoys, I have had enough of the committee hearings on the controversies and exposes that seem to go nowhere. Pardon the pessimism; sure I admire the whistle blowers (go go Heidi!), gets surprised with the exorbitant amount of money they managed to squander and finds the grand standing of most politicians irritating. For me, an expose is good until a bigger and more scandalous one surfaces. It feels like it has a certain shelf life and then poof – nothing happens. Our laws are still too soft on criminals especially those in high places, the witnesses still lack protection from the government and everything is back to square one despite the countless hearings “in aid of legislation”. ... Well, not until Tuesday morning when beleaguered Gen. Angelo Reyes committed suicide. It was an unexpected twist to the saga and gave rise to more questions than answers.

For one, people had mixed reactions to his suicide. Did he decide to take his own life to prove his innocence amidst the sea of doubts and piles of hard evidence? Or was he guilty and couldn't bear the shame?

Having my only brother in the Army, I felt a connection with the story. Since I blog with a heart (or so I claim), I decided to forego blogging about this story until he was put to rest. Watching his wake and funeral on cable news made my fingers itch; I have to write my thoughts down because what I was seeing was insane.

It's no laughing matter to know that the budget allocated for the purchase of artillery and equipment converted so Sir Generals can buy houses abroad, maintain bank accounts to last until their next lifetime and give shopping money to their wives! Worst - the $5 million dollar grant from UN went missing, thanks to the reallocation skills of the AFP officials. The nerve of these men in uniform to steal a grant! You do not steal a grant (development people let me hear you!). Shame on you for giving Filipinos another reason to be shamed in the international scene!

Okay, Gen. Reyes has every right to be enraged with how the senate lambasted him during the hearing. Anyone in his right mind will go bananas if told “You have no reputation to protect!” I sure would like to say that to the EX when the time comes. Sen. Trillanes clearly had an axe to grind, never mind the seniority. An insider told me that Reyes was already a full-pledged Colonel when Trillanes was just a fresh graduate from the PMA.

As the then Chief of Staff, he had command responsibility over his subordinates. The budget and big chunks of money (and maybe the conversions too?) goes through him. He is not a mere figure head! I don’t think Carlos Garcia will have the balls to juggle funds in colossal proportions without consent from the higher ups. Being the boss, you answer for your staff’s actions. He should’ve done something as soon as he smelled something fishy! But Gen. Reyes turned a blind eye. A can of worms was opened and he was grilled before the public.

On interviews, people close to the late general said he took his own life to protect the institution, he did a noble thing. My goodness! I felt my intelligence insulted with how these individuals condoned his actions. A man’s silence while the public clamors for the truth is no way noble. It’s injustice and tantamount to being an accessory to the crime! Angie Reyes committed suicide to avoid spilling the beans – pardon me again, this is cowardice from where I see it. But wait a minute, aren't soldiers trained to be brave and be honorable at all times???

If he was indeed innocent, he could've rounded up the media, have a press conference and present evidence. If he was innocent he will fight for his honor come hell or high water instead of taking the easy way out.

He was given full military honors and was interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. It left a foul taste on my mouth. From my social studies class in elementary, only men and women who did great service to the country are given a space there. Even Marcos still awaits his spot. Not someone who kept his silence and left Filipinos scratching their heads in bewilderment. Not someone who dipped his fingers on the broth then ran for cover.

These are just my thoughts. As a former taxpayer (I’m jobless as of the moment so I’m not taxed) I have the right to ask, as someone who has a brother stationed in Datu Piang I have the right to be bothered, as a Filipino I am enraged. I hope that his actions will not give younger generations the idea that when you are pushed against the wall get a pistol and shoot yourself, that it’s honorable to take your own life to avoid telling the truth.

He may be a decorated soldier who earned his stripes, a public servant for 39 years, a loving son and a doting grandfather. But still it doesn’t change the fact that he did the country an act of injustice by pulling the trigger and keeping his silence forever.

For parents out there remind your children that not even a general or a president has the right to steal.

(photo credit: Getty Images)

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