"Maski personal na galit, akusahan ako tatanggapin ko yun. Pakiusap ko kung puwede lang wag na isama ang pamilya ko. Kasi di lang ito personal, magiging magulo na ito."
Angelo Tomas Reyes loved his family more than his life.
So when former military budget officer George Rabusa had started implicating Reyes’ family during the Garcia plunder probe, Reyes was spurred to end his life rather than let his family criticized. He shot himself in the chest in front of his mother’s tomb at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City.
Reyes had been the 27th Armed Forces chief-of-staff. He sided, though, with the opposition forces that scrutinized then President Joseph Estrada in January 2001. During the next administration, he became the defense secretary (2001-2003), the interior and local government secretary (2004-2006), the environment and natural resources secretary (2006-2007), and the energy secretary (2007-2010). He was, in fact, the longest-serving cabinet member during Arroyo’s term.
Reyes had a Masters degree from the Asian Institute of Management (1973) as well as from the Kennedy School of Government (KSG) at Harvard University (1991). He also studied at the Northwestern University in Chicago, the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterrey, California and Philippine Military Academy (PMA, Class of 1966).
When he was younger, Reyes had topped his class in the Ramon Magsaysay High School (formerly Cubao High School). His parents, Pablo and Purificacion Reyes, were both public school teachers.
He was a devoted son. Amidst his political responsibilities, he still finds time to visit his 95-year-old mother almost everyday and take her out to dinner on weekends. When his parents died, Reyes had frequented the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City to pay respect to his deceased parents.
Reyes’ sons also talked about their father’s service to the AFP. "He was a dedicated soldier for 39 years, putting God and country above self but not once did he forget to call his wife and children every single day. He is known to demand the best from his subordinates...but finds contentment in eating corned beef, monggo, and sardines. He is the nemesis of kidnappers, drug dealers, smugglers, and terrorists but it helpless as his granddaughter puts lipstick on him," Reyes’ sons revealed.
Reyes had allegedly received P100 million when he was the military chief and P50 million when he retired in March 2001. The send-off money, referred to as pabaon within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), was aside from the P5 million he was doled out monthly. His successors, Roy Cimatu and Diomedio Villanueva, were said to receive P10 million each during their time too.
Even his family was accused to benefit from the military funds. Rabusa claimed giving Teresita Pernia Reyes, Angelo’s wife, at least P20,000 in her local travels and more or less $10,000 in her foreign trips.
"They [the kids] are not really receiving cash. With all the money the family is getting from the military, I am sure umaabot. There were some activities pero wag na natin pag-usapan yan kasi it’s too personal. Yung mga special ops, mga kalokohan. Yung mga boys' night out, ako nag-a-arrange. Kasama din ako. At that time, it was P8,000 per person," Rabusa added, referring to Bogie, Jett, Marc, Carlo, and Judd.
The Catholic clergy permitted a ‘Catholic burial’ for Reyes.
The Senate has been considering too to ‘spare’ Reyes’ family to attend the hearings. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada proposed to even exclude the late general in the final report of the Blue Ribbon Committee.
A number of political personalities also attended in his wake: Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, former Senator Richard Gordon, former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Congressman Dato Arroyo, Atty. Sal Panelo, Pampanga Mayor Jerry Pelayo, former Tarlac Gov. Tingting Cojuangco, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan III, Donald Dee and Sergio Luis Ortiz.
Ret. Commodore Jose Agodolo would also remember him as ‘a proud and accomplished man who valued pride, honor and dignity more than life itself.’ “… a samurai warrior who would rather commit hara-kiri or kill himself than face humiliation.”
Reyes’ body was blessed at the St. Ignatius Cathedral in Camp Aguinaldo and buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani after a 19-gun salute, which he deserved upon being former chief of staff and defense secretary, and a 21-gun salute, which is the highest honor public officials could receive.
Notes: Rabusa himself reaped about P50 million while serving as military budget officer. His two daughters have $132,485.00 insurance, which he said came from the sale of their house in Orlando, Florida that was a gift from his wife's godmother.
"Talagang sumadsad ang buhay ko, para akong pulubi. Namamalimos then they wont believe na walang wala na ako. Walang gustong (tumulong). Para akong may ketong na iniiwasan. Bago ako lumabas, ang ka-text ko yung katulong ko at driver. Nobody cares. I tried to approach people, tulungan niyo ako. Si Rabosa mawawalan ng pera? Imposible!" Rabusa disclosed.