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Angelo Reyes’ Last Legacy

February 13, 2011

Gen. Reyes is actually talking from his grave: the first fault, which could lead us to damnation, is that of having accepted aspects of this grand form of corruption as a fact of life. This is the general’s final, great legacy.

Reyes: "I did not invent corruption. I walked into it. Perhaps my first fault was in having accepted aspects of it as a fact of life."

Reyes: “I did not invent corruption. I walked into it. Perhaps my first fault was in having accepted aspects of it as a fact of life.”

I read former chief of staff and defense secretary Angelo Reyes’ last notes with great interest and attention. It was part of the story of Malou Mangahas of the PCIJ published on the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Ms Mangahas said that Reyes wanted to “see me so he could tell his story to “an independent journalist.”” However, the independent journalist’s meeting with the former President Gloria Arroyo’s general never took place, as the latter decided to end his life on February 8.

The retired general wrote his final notes two days before his suicide.

A number of phrases and snippets caught my attention while reading Reyes’ notes. Reyes’ words show he did not fear death. He was more afraid of losing honor. ” Here are the highlights of the general’s written communication:

1. Reyes stresses the virtue of honor, truth, and justice, saying pride goes with honor, “self-respect, sense of legacy.”

2. He considers two options available: to stonewall/fight the legal battle, or to come clean and help cleanse the system. He then defines his terms. Stonewalling would lead to a long legal battle while coming clean “cannot be done without giving up something.” He said that the truth can cut in two ways: 1) “If you are guiltless, you can embrace the truth and hope that it will protect you, and 2) “If you are not guiltless, speak the truth and it shall set you free.”

3. He believes that “Living life without honor is a tragedy bigger than death itself.”

4. He implies that he cannot choose the first option (to stonewall), as this requires one to have connections, resources and power to sustain it. He says he has “none of these, and so I choose the path of honor.” Remember that Reyes ‘somehow’ puts emphasis on this statement: HONOR ABOVE ALL ELSE… perhaps including death.

The intriguing question now is: Was he guilty?

Reyes says: “I might not be guiltless/faultless, but I am not as evil as some would like to portray.” He adds: “I did not invent corruption. I walked into it. Perhaps my first fault was in having accepted aspects of it as a fact of life.”

The second statement is one of the most telling and most important of all. This, in fact, is the most important legacy of Angelo Reyes to the Filipino people. No, Gen. Reyes, it’s NOT just your fault. It’s the most destructive ‘fault’ that most people in these parts have accepted the aspects of this “corruption” as a fact of life. This kind of corruption is not merely the virus that is eating at the core of the military sector. It is this corruption that is destroying this country.

The corruption in the Armed Forces is not unique and distinct confined only to the four corners of the country’s military sector. Perhaps Reyes in his final notes is merely talking about the kind of corruption that involves acts of bribery, plunder, illegal/immoral transactions, etc. But this is only the effect of a bigger form of corruption, namely, the altruist-collectivist ethics that is the dominant morality of our self-sacrificing country and enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

We as a nation accepted that it is the role of the government to be our nanny state- to be the provider of our daily needs- to be the benevolent ‘God’ that protects the poor, the meek, the weak from the strong, the dominant, the productive, the rich. We as a nation believe that the government, in performing its altruist-collectivist goals, must redistribute wealth, provide the needs (e.g., education, health care, transport, etc.) of the poor, the lazy, the weak, bar or limit the entry of productive economic actors not born in our land, deliver and guarantee the leftist mantra of ‘social justice’, ‘equality’ and ‘egalitarianism’, and make the state/government the ultimate source and distributor of wealth, of fiat rights (e.g., rights to education, health care, transport, subsidy, etc.), and all forms of public goods. For this reason, we, in 1987 and the years before, established a welfare-statist, altruist-collectivist, politically correct, semi-socialist, egalitarian Constitution that is the source of all political and economic evils in this semi-free country.

It is this evil Constitution that gives so much political power to the President to determine the altruist-collectivist goals of his/her presidency, thereby negating the only proper role of the state, namely, to protect individual rights against 1) state abuse and interference, 2) criminal elements, 3) treason, power grab and invasion. However, it is the dominant altruist-collectivist mentality of the Filipino people that does more harm, as they yearn for more government powers, regulations, interference, subsidies, and freebies without knowing that it is Big Government (or more state powers) that opens the floodgates to all kinds of evils, including corruption.

Yes, we asked for it, brothers!

Most of us are guilty. We are guilty for accepting the aspects of this most evil kind of corruption that destroys man’s independence, self-worth, self-esteem, and soul as a fact of life. That most of us negatively react to the large-scale corruption in the military and the government is understandable. But what most Filipino people don’t understand is the fact this corruption in the AFP is merely the effect of the corruption of man’s mind and soul, which is our own invention or making. Yes, we have shaped our society in our image.

Man’s freedom can never grow and flourish in a corrupt society. Do you now understand why the government, through your own inaction and misinformed support, continues to take away your freedom? You want to end corruption in the government yet you ignorantly, shamelessly call for more government powers to rule everybody’s lives. You now understand that the public sector is full of corrupt, shameless bulok-rats (bureaucrats) yet you are willing to let these sub-humans protect you against yourself, steal from the rich and productive to provide you education and other subsidies, punish and prosecute others for being successful.

Corruption is what most of us do everyday in our lives. Corruption is what the pro-education rights, pro-Reproductive Health advocates, and pro-public subsidies stupidly demand whenever they take the streets and open their mouths to air their statist slogans and grievances. Corruption, allow me to say it very clearly, is the logical result of the mentality of these sub-human creatures who believe that the government is the solution to our personal and collective ills.

To those of you who share the views of these pro-RH bill, pro-education rights statists, let me urge you to check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong. If you believe that it is the duty of the government to redistribute wealth, try to understand that wealth must first be created (by the productive people) before it can be looted or distributed. If you think that the solution to corruption in the government is to give more powers to our politicians, think again!

Gen. Reyes is actually talking from his grave: the first fault, which could lead us to damnation, is that of having accepted aspects of this grand form of corruption as a fact of life. This is the general’s final, great legacy.

Living life without honor is a tragedy bigger than death itself

By Angelo Reyes

Honor, truth, justice. Honor above all else. Pride goes with it, self-respect, sense of legacy. This is very, very important to me. Sometimes, I am accused of being arrogant. I like to have plenty—a healthy sense—of self-esteem. I react to affronts on this.

There are two options available: to stonewall/fight the legal battle, or to come clean and make my own contribution to cleanse the system.

Stonewalling, I am told, would result in a long, protracted legal battle. However, past cases are not being resolved either way, kept in state of limbo. People’s memories are short and all this will eventually fade into public disinterest, and eventually oblivion. So, not to worry.

Coming clean, on the other hand, cannot be done without giving up something. I have decided to come clean, bare my heart and speak the truth. The truth can cut two ways: 1. If you are guiltless, you can embrace the truth and hope that it will protect you; 2. If you are not guiltless, speak the truth and it shall set you free.

I speak the truth not to whistle-blow or to seek neither immunity nor protection nor to escape from any form of liability. As a matter of fact, I speak the truth to accept responsibility for whatever liability I may have.

Honor is above all else. More valuable than freedom or even life itself. Therefore, honor must be guarded/defended with your life.

Living life without honor is a tragedy bigger than death itself.

Stonewalling would mean I would have to go on every day of my life or at least a large part of it under a cloud of public suspicion, at least until the case is resolved. Every day as you continue to live with the lie, you lose a little of your self-respect. And every day, as people look at you, you can read from their minds that they find you dishonorable, and you die a little. So if you stonewall—and you have the connections, resources and power to sustain it, and perhaps the thick face to endure it—that would be the preferred option. I have none of these, and so I choose the path of honor.

My honor has been attacked and damaged. I still have a lot of pride and self-respect, and I’d like to come clean to preserve whatever honor is left.

We see plenty of people walking around who have been clearly disgraced in the eyes of the people, and I do not want to join their ranks.

I think if you want to cleanse the system and for there to be justice, it should be applied equally and well. Our experience has shown that those with position and power, support and connection invariably go scot-free. I don’t have any of these.

It is unfortunate that we have a huge canvas here of which, I admit, I have been a part; unfortunately, people are now inclined to make me the face of that problem for their own various reasons.

When I participated in Edsa II, even then I anticipated that something like this would happen when I made enemies both on a personal and official level. In my long years of service, I knew that I would have to come to terms with this enmity some day.

I might not be guiltless/faultless, but I am not as evil as some would like to portray.

To my friends and those who have known me and believed in me, I honestly believe I did not let you down.

I want to assure the (PMA) cadet corps, current and future, that there are plenty of military professionals who have served and will continue to serve the country well. Do not be disheartened by this turn of events. Yours is a noble profession (of arms), and you should feel no shame. I have tried to live with integrity, loyalty, and courage.

In my 48 years of public service, I have tried to live up to the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. Whether it’s my assignment with the AFP-RSBS or with the Anti-Smuggling Task Force, I never received any offers of bribes; in fact, I returned them. In all my assignments, 39 years in the military and 9 years in four different Cabinet positions, I have never had any favorite supplier. Neither have I ever extorted money nor set any financial precondition for the approval of any contract. I can honestly say that I served honestly and well.

We are now in the situation where my honor and the family name are at stake. My family, my children, my grandchildren could say with a lot of truthfulness and pride that in the family, we value honor and integrity. Strength to live it and the courage to face up to the truth. This is the legacy I would like to leave with them.

Honor, truth, but there must be justice. And justice can be served if laws are applied evenly and well—not favoring the rich and powerful. I hope my case/situation will not be used as something that would bring closure to the issue of military corruption. The fight to reform the system and the entire country must continue; the sad part is that they are selectively targeting individuals and institutions.

I did not invent corruption. I walked into it. Perhaps my first fault was in having accepted aspects of it as a fact of life.

While I am familiar with finance, I must admit I had scant knowledge of military comptrollership. Personally, zero experience. Never been assigned as disbursement officer, etc., no stint. It’s a military field of specialization that I do not have.

No system is perfect. The AFP system needs a lot of systemic solutions… And the same might be true of some other institutions.

Tinyente pa ako, ganyan na ang sistema (i.e., “conversion” system, etc.)… I can perhaps be faulted for presuming regularity in a grossly imperfect system. As CS (chief of staff), a big landscape, presume regularity, convenient to ignore it, accept it as part of the system. It’s easy to say, institute reforms after the problems have erupted.

I joined Edsa II at great risk. Jumped into a void. Coming from a place that was high and comfortable. Without any regard for compensation or recognition or reward. I thought what I did —being loyal to the Flag and putting the national interest above all else—a right, but I was faulted for not being loyal to the commander-in-chief, that I should have stuck with him to the end, however that end might be. I stuck it out with the Arroyo administration for 9 years, not under the banner of loyalty; I could have deserted Arroyo, but I did not want to be branded as someone who abandoned his superiors…

When we participated in many military campaigns, I would like to think that I showed courage…

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