"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."
These are perhaps among the last recorded words of former defense secretary Angelo Reyes, reportedly penned as rough "discussion notes" on Sunday, February 6, as he was preparing for an interview with Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism's (PCIJ's) Malou Mangahas —just two days before he killed himself amidst allegations that he and several other former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chiefs of staff received millions of of pesos in send-off money when they retired from service.
In these terse words, Reyes tried his best to walk the fine line between admitting guilt and insisting that he pursued an honest career as a professional soldier. "I might not be guiltless/faultless, but I am not as evil as some would like to portray," Reyes wrote in his notes that a close confidante later passed to PCIJ's Malou Mangahas. The full transcript, including Mangahas' own comments, are posted on the PCIJ website. "Tinyente pa ako, ganyan na ang sistema (i.e., "conversion" system, etc.)… ," Reyes explained in his notes. (That's the way it's always been, even when I was just a lieutenant.) "I can perhaps be faulted for presuming regularity in a grossly imperfect system. As CS (chief of staff), [I saw] 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," Reyes continued in what Mangahas explained as still rough, unpolished, and incomplete notes.
The statement sheds light on Reyes' motives for killing himself, after it was alleged that he and several other former AFP chiefs received millions of of pesos in "pabaon" (send-off money) upon retirement from service.
In an ongoing Senate probe, former AFP fund manager Lt. Col. George Rabusa claimed that Reyes alone allegedly received P50 million on his retirement.
On the morning of February 8, Reyes killed himself in front of his mother's grave.
He died from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, apparently from a caliber .45 pistol, based on the findings of a special investigation task group of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
Eyewitnesses told police that Reyes, his bodyguard, a driver, and two sons arrived at around 7:00 a.m. at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City. Sometime before 7:30, Reyes reportedly told his sons and bodyguard to go ahead to where their car was parked. Then, standing alone in front of the grave of his mother, a single shot rang out and he fell to the ground. — GMA News