MANILA, Philippines - The suicide of former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes was his "honorable way out," University of the Philippines political scientist Dr. Clarita Carlos said.
She compared Reyes’ decision to ancient Japanese warriors committing ritual suicide when they lose honor and dignity.
"It’s 'hara-kiri.' It's the honorable way out, a combination of loss of hope, loss of self esteem, the shame factor," she said.
Carlos added that Reyes killed himself not because he was weak but because his strength gave him courage to pull the trigger.
"Suicide is chosen by a person who has guts, who has the courage to kill yourself. Secretary Reyes had a very powerful personality," she said.
Carlos worked with Reyes at the Department of National Defense in 2001.
She described the retired general as “intelligent” and “very sharp-minded.”
She believes that Reyes chose death than be put in prison, humiliated, and lose the reputation that he protected for decades.
"Kung ilalagay ko sarili ko sa kanya, it’s the threat of going to jail, hard evidence are piling up...how can anyone live for 30 more years in ignominy?"
"Maybe he thought, wala nang natitirang iota of self-redemption. There is a threat, involved sa pamilya sa asawa at sa mga anak, and he took it upon himself, siya na ang umako lahat," she added.
No change in corruption?
Carlos said the death of Reyes may not result in a complete change in the financial management system of the Armed Forces, which she believes is riddled with too much corruption that it is almost entrenched into the culture of the institution.
However, military officers who are corrupt may now think twice before conniving with other officers to pocket public funds, she said.
“Ang corruption napakalalim ng ugat, both institutional and behavioral. Iyung mga gumagawa ng katiwalian, matatakot na sila na mag-depend sa mga akala nilang loyal sa kanila,” she said, citing the revelations made by former military budget officer George Rabusa against Reyes.
“Si Rabusa, kumpare pa nga niya iyon."
Rabusa testified before the Senate that Reyes took P50 million pesos from the AFP funds as "pabaon" when he retired as Armed Forces chief of staff in 2001.
Carlos said that for corruption to end, the government must be able to put one corrupt official behind bars. "Dapat talaga may ma-preso, dapat may magbayad, kaya paulit-ulit ang korupsyon, wala kasing nagbabayad."
'Like a samurai warrior'
Members of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1966, to which Reyes belonged, offered their condolences to his family on Tuesday.
Reyes' classmates said they were shocked and saddened by his death.
They revealed that they were supposed to meet last Sunday for a meeting to show their support for him against allegations of corruption by Rabusa.
His classmates refuse to believe the allegations against Reyes. For them, he was an honorable and brave citizen who sacrificed a lot for the country.
For Ret. Commodore Jose Agodolo, Reyes was a proud and accomplished man who valued pride, honor and dignity more than life itself.
Like Carlos, Agodolo likened Reyes to a samurai warrior who would rather commit "hara-kiri" than face humiliation.
According to Ret. Col. Manuel Espejo, Reyes was a victim of trial by publicity, as he was judged guilty without even being charged or sentenced in a court of law.
Espejo revealed that Reyes was deeply affected by the accusations that damaged his name, family and honor.
Another classmate, Ret. Brig. Gen. Fred Bautista, said Reyes sacrificed himself for the sake of the military institution.
Bautista explained that the Senate investigation destroyed the reputation not only of generals being linked to corruption but the entire military institution.
He said that the greater danger is when soldiers will no longer follow their commanders because of the generalizations being made against them.
Bautista added that the incident should be a lesson for senators to respect human rights, especially the right of a person to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. - With a report from Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News