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Philippines: Netizens react to suicide of former Army chief

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It was a news that shocked the nation. Angelo Reyes, former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Cabinet secretary of National Defense, Energy and Local Government, took his own life on the morning of February 8, right before the grave of his beloved mother. Many speculate that the suicide was caused by tremendous pressure brought on by the Senate investigation of the corruption in the armed forces of which Reyes was allegedly involved.

While Reyes’ family and friends mourn his tragic death, the nation continues on with the discourse on the systemic corruption in government and its armed forces, trying to make sense of it all and for a way to move forward.

Marie at a crazy mom's world shares how Reye's suicide has affected her. Being a government employee herself, she cannot help but feel some sympathy for Reyes as she points out that everyone deserves to be presumed innocent until proved otherwise:

What can I say? That we really don’t know if he did steal or not. It’s easy to be high and mighty about judging him na nakonsensya sya because of the things he supposedly committed and the huge amounts of government funds that he supposedly partook of. He may, he may have not. Personally, I think there is some truth to it. But, but! Let us not assume that just because he is from the government that’s why he did it! It just sorta burns me up inside. Yes I know that there are absolute corrupt officials and employees within the branches of the government. But it is unfair to use that “because he is from the government” thing para isakdal na ang tao.”

Andrew Pua delves into the possible reasons why the former AFP Chief of Staff took his own life:

Now, you see in the news a lot of potential explanations. This seems natural. We try to overthink/underthink reasons for suicide. Perhaps he did not want to get caught. Perhaps he was ashamed (but he almost served in public office for more than a decade, yet was not ashamed of the payout if it were true). Perhaps he loved his family too much for them to carry the blame. In our times, these are the sins of the father. Somehow, people translate all these sins and ascribe them to the family. They have indirectly benefited if the corruption were true. Willful blindness is not an excuse. I am sure the family members knew about the corruption if it were true. So, in effect, all of us are diminished by their inability to be human. Perhaps he was pressured or had debts of gratitude that were cashed in by some of the other possible beneficiaries of corruption. Thus the need to end the investigative trail. Perhaps, he wasn’t actually part of it. That evidence, or whatever pathetic substitute we have for evidence, may actually be tainted. In this case, Reyes had nothing to fear. But he might have been fearing something else–something more insidious. In the end, WE DON’T KNOW.

Patricio Mangubat re-traces the path that Reyes took which eventually led him to his tragic demise - a path least travelled by great military men:

The world would have seen Angelo Reyes in a different light had he chose to retire peacefully after his stint as the military's main man. He would have lived a life of a statesman, unblemished and untarnished by politics.

Yet, because he associated himself with the vilest and the most unpopular administration of all time, Reyes had no choice but to protect himself from the numerous enemies of that administration. His only way out was to continue playing politics, a world which he does not fully understand and a world of differing values, values which differ from his.

When he shot himself in the heart, it was a sign that Reyes probably regretted some of the choices he made in his life. Prior to his death, his family said that he became totally depressed. And it is expected since Reyes was part of an administration most hated by many and now, with the most number of enemies lurking. When he was fighting those rebels in Mindanao, Reyes at least knows what they are fighting for. In the world that he chose for himself after retirement, Reyes was like an animal trapped at all sides by shadows of unknown enemies.

Reyes wanted probably to tell the world that he was not the man whom every single one hated. That he was different. That, yes, he probably sinned by closing his eyes and covering his ears and not making any single protest against those who sin around him. Reyes was part of a corrupt and evil system. His sin was he tolerated the corruption and not even lifted a finger to correct it.

Bayan Secretary general Renato M. Reyes believes that the death of Angelo Reyes should be taken as a reason to continue on with the investigations, seeing that the corruption in the AFP top brass seems to also involve its former Commander-in-Chief:

The death of Angelo Reyes, coming as it is at the height of congressional investigations, is the most compelling reason why we need to know the truth about corruption in the AFP. That this tragedy happened at this time, and after all that has been revealed, should give us a sense of urgency to pursue the probe and demand accountability from our institutions. Those officials who benefitted from corruption should not consider themselves off the hook. That includes the former commander-in-chief.

The number one cause for suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Please visit www.befrienders.org to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.

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