PNS — THOUGH sad with the suicide of retired Gen. Angelo Reyes, who got depressed after being implicated in the alleged corruption in the military, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has defended the Upper Chamber in conducting a probe on the reported misuse of military funds.
“While I feel sad that this thing happened to a friend because Secretary Angelo Reyes is a good friend of mine, nonetheless, as head of this institution, I must uphold the right of the Senate to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation to perform the work for the people and the nation in order to help in its development in spite of this incident,” the Senate chief said.
Whistleblower retired Lt.Col.George Rabusa, who accused Reyes of accepting a P50-million “send-off” gift when he retired in 2001, declined to comment on the latter’s death.
“I want privacy,” Rabusa said in a phone interview.
Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, who convinced Rabusa to testify against alleged irregularities in the AFP, said: “I will continue to endeavor to bring such changes through the ongoing investigation in the Senate so that his death will find new meaning — that there is still honor left in the AFP.”
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who earlier had a spat with Reyes, wanted the investigation to proceed “maybe until we get to bury the departed out of respect but ultimately you have to continue with the investigation.”
He earlier directly named Reyes as the “powerful person” behind retired Maj. Gen.Carlos Garcia, who had been charged with plunder before the Sandiganbayan but later pleaded to a lesser offense, direct bribery.
Asked whether politicians, who demonized Reyes, had pushed the latter to take his own life, Trillanes said: “Those comments are very unfortunate. It’s not going to help Gen. Reyes’ family in their moment of grief. So, hindi ko muna papatulan ito.”
Trillanes earlier told Reyes that the latter has “no reputation to protect” when the former Armed Forces chief of staff wanted to confront Rabusa, for dragging him into the alleged misuse of military funds.
When asked further if he felt sorry for the death of Reyes, an upper classman in the Phil. Military Academy, Trillanes said: “No. Kasi sabi ko nga, I’m the kind of person who learns from lessons of life. And we would have wished or preferred that things were ended on a more pleasant note. That’s just how life was meant to be for all of us.
“Remember, Gen. Reyes is a graduate of PMA. He used to be a chief of staff (of the Armed Forces). So he went through all the pressures necessary to survive those chapters in his life. So, we’re not privy to what went on in his mind. We will never know,” Trillanes told reporters.
“It’s unfortunate. We are doing a duty, and anyone who is hailed in this Senate to answer questions must be prepared to defend himself. Of course we will not tolerate any act that will demean or inflict indignities to a member of the public who will appear before us,” Enrile said.
He added: “But if in the course of our performance of our sworn duty to serve the people, incidents like these will happen, I dare say that all of us ought not to give up the prerogative that was entrusted to us by the Filipino people to perform this job.
“Otherwise, this government, this nation, this institution will break down if our democratic tradition to ferret out the truth, no matter how painful, that ferreting out will be. And so, this is my position and I hope this would be the position of the entire Senate,” Enrile said at the opening of the session yesterday afternoon.
Trillanes does not believe that Reyes had been subjected to trial by publicity. “I believe we’re not doing anything different.
“We also went through the same thing back in 2007. We were subjected to trial by publicity. We faced the government propaganda then. And we were incarcerated seven years after and we are still here.
“So, maybe there is another mission for us to accomplish. Sad to say that was how life was meant to be for Secretary Reyes,” he added.