Mixed reactions to Reyes’ death

The late Angelo T. Reyes (2nd from right), then chief of staff of the Armed Forces, joins former President Joseph Estrada and Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado in a boodle fight in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte during the “all out war” in 2000. MindaNews file photo by Bobby Timonera

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 February) – The death of Angelo Reyes, Armed Forces Chief of Staff when then President Joseph Estrada waged his “all-out war” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2000 and Defense Secretary in the 2003 war waged by the Arroyo administration, drew mixed reactions from Mindanawons.

Angie Angliongto, former chair of the Mindanao Business Council, said taking one’s life is no joke so he hopes Reyes “left a last will and testament about what he knew about the corruption, as his legacy to the country.”

“It’s a reflection of an honorable person who prefers to bury secrets to the grave than break a code of silence, or a Judas’ act of shame over 30 pieces of silver,” said Andre Atega, director of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Agusan del Norte.

Agusan del Sur Governor Adolf Edward Plaza said the news was “unthinkable” but “as a friend, I mourn with his family.”

Mohagher Iqbal, information chief of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said Reyes “chose the path to escape from the corruption charges against him and his blood debt to the Bangsamoro.”

Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema said he knew Reyes “as a good man.”

“We were all together at the peace process and the attainment of peace process in Mindanao,” Sema said.

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo said “Sorry, no comment. I am not one to judge publicly someone else either in life or in death. But I do wonder if the legislature is the right place to subject individuals to public humiliation when all it is supposed to do is in aid of legislation. Cases should be filed in court where charges can be properly handled by judge and lawyers. In the legislature, no alleged scam or corruption has had any closure.”

In Kidapawan City, Leo Rovoca, a resident of Nursery Phase 2 asked, “Yung iba? Walang plano sumunod?” (What about the others? Will they follow?)

In Davao City, Karlos Manlupig, spokesperson of the League of Filipino students in Southeastern Mindanao, said Reyes’ death definitely has something to do with the ongoing congressional probe on corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He said Reyes “was one of the most loyal allies of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and he was in the center of controversy over the corruption cases. Authorities should immediately conduct a proper investigation and never rule out foul play but if he did commit suicide, he was a great escapist and that will prove his solid loyalty to GMA (Arroyo) and others involved in the controversy.”

Nonoy Amarille, a farmer-worker in Butuan City, said in Cebuano: “It’s a pity he did not reveal the names of the others involved. At least he still had some conscience left. This is the first time a former high ranking official committed suicide.” (Former Finance Secretary Jaime Ongpin did, in 1987 – ed).

Yul Caraga, an NGO worker in Butuan City, said Reyes’ suicide “leaves us wondering whether he did it because of guilt over his alleged involvement in AFP corruption. His death may have serious implications in the ongoing Senate and Congressional probe.”

Nancy Cullano, a women’s rights advocate also in Butuan City, said Reyes was “too affected by the recent AFP corruption issue. He couldn’t stand to face another round of scrutiny.”

A military officer who requested not to be named said, “Sorry, I don’t want to comment pro or anti to a dead person but maybe if there is a drama to it, Reyes was really a good son to his mother.”

Fr. Jonathan Domingo, who was parish priest of Pikit during the 2000 “all-out war,” said Reyes took his life as a way out and it must have been the way to let the Filipinos forgive him. At the very least, let’s pray for the repose of his soul and leave the final judgment to the Lord.”

Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., former Notre Dame University president and now executive director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, said Reyes “paid with his life the shame brought to his mom and dad. Akin to Japanese harakiri. Fully paid and he restored the honor. He is now with God.”

Bishop Felixberto Calang, chair of InPeace Mindanao, said that “Reyes could have redeemed his already damaged reputation by unveiling the truth and pinpoint the chief principal of corruption, but rather chose to bring with him the dirty secrets during his term.”(Alden Pantaleon, Malu Manar, Gail Ilagan, Ferdinandh Cabrera and Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)