Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Angelo Reyes

He did the last remaining honorable exit for him. This was my first reaction when a friend texted me that Angelo Reyes committed suicide. I was then in a bus along EDSA and I asked the bus driver to stop the movie and tune in to the radio. The AM band is unintelligible so I asked him to tune in to 92.3 Radyo Singko in the FM band. I received various texts shortly thereafter, all of them expressing varied opinions.

Suicide as a way out is not new. In most of the developed world, fallen leaders routinely commit suicide once they are implicated in anomalies or even just a shadow of doubt is cast upon their integrity. Where in ancient times up to the modern history the Japanese culture of hara kiri is the most prominent, now, Koreans, Americans, Thais, and the rest of the world were following suit.

The opinions on killing oneself as a means of escape are as diverse as the ways to do it. In Japan, where the means is self decapitation with the help of a second, it is the only way to restore honor for a tarnished samurai. In the movie “The Last Samurai” one of the more prominent lines is the statement of Ken Watanabe “It was a good death.” In modern day Japan, during the financial crisis that hit it in the 60s, the means was jumping out of the window of a skyscraper. So is with the Koreans. The disgraced President Roh jumped to his death after his involvement in a bribery scandal.

Even in the Catholic world, death is not the end all but even the start of something higher. There is that so-called “Prayer for a Happy Death” and ironically, the most prominent devotee of this prayer was a woman named Cory Aquino. It is just a means that is being disputed that within a few hours of Reyes death, a hypocrite Roman Catholic bishop stated that suicide is one of the biggest sins.

How will the death of Reyes affect the current corruption investigation being conducted by the House and the Senate? As I have always maintained during my discourses with friends, the biggest sin committed by all these involved is the sin of omission. They knew that something is wrong with the system yet they did not do anything about it. The practice of conversion is nothing new. Money intended for one thing in the budget is “converted” to cash to be spent in another, presumably more important and more urgent need. In the process, all the agencies involved who were supposed to provide checks and balances on one another must now work in concert to make things happen. The Original end user provides the reason and the most common is “Well, our budget provided us money for salaries (Object Class 01) but what we need are tires, batteries, and gasoline for our vehicles for our combat operations. Let us convert this 01 to cash to buy tires, batteries, and gasoline.” With this explanation, the AFP then converts the 01 money into cash usually by selling the Notice of Cash Allotments from the DBM to the “suppliers” an euphemism for the Mafia that has the connections to all the agencies involved—AFP/PNP, COA, and DBM/DOF. This is a well entrenched system and everybody knows that this is wrong. But who can stop it and how can it be stopped? The first step was made by Gen Efren Abu when he abolished J6 and broke it down into four separate offices providing internal checks and balances. But the reforms need to continue—and this is supposed to be purpose of all these hearings conducted by legislators: in aid of legislation.

The most significant complication that the death of Reyes brought is that the pressure is now on Jinggoy and Trillanes. After all things were said and done, can they now say that they are clean and not as notorious what they wanted to paint Reyes as? Were they all above board in their transactions involving their pork barrels? And especially for Trillanes, can he ask the same question as confidently as Reyes did to people on the know when he said “Naging swapang ba ako?” in light of the Senate Finance Report that he was one of the top-spending senators despite the fact that he was then in detention? What Reyes most probably meant was “Kinuha ko lang ang para sa akin na ibinibigay ng kasalukuyang sistema. Ang kasalanan ko lang ay di ko binagao ang mga mali na inabutan ko.”

What I want to hear in the next few days is the surfacing of an ante mortem statement of Reyes containing something like, “Yes I am guilty of allowing conversion. But among the funds that we converted and cleared were the pork barrels of senators and congressmen who used the AFP as the clearing house and used the return to sender system.” I wonder how many of those who will be named will have the courage to also shoot themselves in the heart?

And by the way, start probing the funds of the PNP. For all you know, that will make the fund mess in the AFP look like a game of tong-its using loose change!

Goodbye General Reyes. I had been one your harshest critics (though anonymous and unknown) in the past. But in one fell swoop (or a bullet in your heart—if you want to be remembered as that), you regained my respect.

My salute sir!

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