Conclusion of a 3-part series
Not long after the pabaon (parting present for retiring generals) scandal exploded in the Senate, with full blown tri-media coverage of the Senate hearings, Angie was invited as a resource person. As usual, some ignorant senators, who know nothing of courtesy and the nature of Senate hearings, bombarded the resource persons with numerous questions, including Angie. Senator Antonio Trillanes, a squirt of a senator, lectured to Angie that he could not talk about honor considering his conduct on the pabaon issue. He took the presumptuous statement of Trillanes, lying down. It is unfortunate that I was not beside Angie at that moment, I would have suggested he blast Trillanes into kingdom come by replying that the last person in that chamber to know the meaning of the word honor is Trillanes.
Why? This is the same Trillanes who pulled a coup at the Oakwood Hotel in Makati City. who has not even read the basic texts on coup d’etat by Edward Luttwak and Gregor Ferguson. At best, it is irrational to pull such kind of a military operation at a hotel. It can be credited to ignorance, lack of reading and inability to profit from another military experience not so long ago that was orchestrated by another senator, Gregorio Honasan.
His sent his troops to occupy the business district of Makati City and in the words of his commander in the area, Colonel Rafael Galvez, he had to quit because he did not know the nature of the mission and who was the authority who should be barking orders.
One year after the Oakwood caper, Trillanes and five other leaders of the Oakwood band, apologized to GMA for pulling the coup in full view of television outlets claiming that they were misinformed about the veracity of the charges they leveled against her and Angie. And Trillanes had the effrontery to talk about honor. I had been one of Trillanes et al.’s lead counsels. I withdrew my appearance as their counsel the very day I saw the television footage because I considered their conduct based on misinformation contemptibly dishonorable.
Days later, I was shocked to learn that Angie, the lovable and self-effacing general, committed suicide at Loyola Memorial Park, Marikina City, in front of the grave stone of his mother. Shock waves swept the country. I believed then that he was assassinated into silence him. Others believed that it was staged and that Angie was still alive somewhere, just like the legends of Jose Rizal and Ferdinand E. Marcos that they are still alive today.
Others insist that he committed suicide because he could not stand the charge of the pabaon and the shame that would visit his family. The controversy could last for decades but the medical reports and the family admission sealed the fact that Angie is dead and there is no other conclusion that can rebut that fact.
The prevailing view is that Angie committed suicide. Even the motive of the suicide has become controversial. It is an acceptable interpretation because Angie was an honorable man. It is consistent with the Bushido code as a samurai. Many officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines cannot do what Angie did, considering that many of them have pachydermous insensitivity.
How I wish there were more men like Angie Reyes, not only among soldiers but among politicians and businessmen. The country needs them in these times of overwhelming corruption and distorted values. The country is on the straight road to perdition, not on the straight road to redemption because of men whose values are opposite of those of Angie Reyes. You can find these contemptible creatures in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, in Malacañang and the Cabinet, in the provincial capitols and city halls, in the Makati Business Club and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries as well as in other institutions of government and private business.
On a personal level, Angie Reyes reminds me of these lines from a song of long ago: “Faithful friends are life’s best treasures. Wealth and fame may fade away. Bring no joy or lasting pleasure. Faithful friends abide all ways. In this world I’ll gladly go. If one faithful friend I’ll know.” I consider Angie Reyes as one of my faithful friends – simple, patriotic, faithful to principles and ideals, and dedicated to the ideal – country first above all else.
In this crucial period of our contemporary history, when the life of this country is at the edge of the precipice, I cannot help wondering where are those soldiers who like General Angie Reyes love this country more than life itself. Where are those soldiers with the qualities of Gammal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Moammar Khaddafi of Libya, Moshe Dayan of Israel, Hugo Chaves of Venezuela, Chu Teh of China, Vo Nguyen Giap of Vietnam and Kemal Ataturk of Turkey?
In the Philippines, the redoubtable generals like Edgardo Abenina and Cirilo Oropesa are fast fading into the sunset with their unfulfilled dreams for the country. Other outstanding officers like Cesar dela Pena of the Marines and Oscarlito Mapalo of the Army have withered on the vine. General Galileo Kintanar is dead with his dreams for our people buried with him.
The young officers and men of the AFP could do better now by learning from General Angie Reyes and the other officers and men named on these pages. Maybe in a not too distant future, we can stop wondering where are the officers and men of the AFP who know their duties under the Constitution – that they are “the protectors of the people and the State” and that their goals are “to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.”