Family of Reyes in Senate hearings possible-A A +A
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Tuesday that while former Defense secretary Angelo Reyes's death cleared him of allegations of corruption, his family may be summoned to future Senate hearings.
"His death extinguished both his criminal and civil liabilities," Santiago said, but she was quick to add that Reyes's wife and children may still be liable for the former general's alleged ill-gotten wealth.
Santiago further said the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee could invite Reyes's family to address allegations hurled against the former Defense chief.
At the committee hearing Monday, former Armed Forces of the Philippines budget officer George Rabusa said he often gave Reyes's wife Teresita money for her trips abroad.
Santiago explained that the law prohibits relatives of government officials from "[capitalizing] or [exploiting] such family relation by directly or indirectly receiving any pecuniary advantage from any other person having some business with the deceased in which the deceased had to intervene."
On Tuesday, Reyes shot himself in front of his mother's tomb at the Loyola Memorial Park. He was rushed to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, but was declared dead at 8:32 a.m.
Call for caution
Meanwhile, Senator Gregorio Honasan II said Reyes might have been overwhelmed by the pressure of being accused of accepting money diverted from military funds.
He told Sun.Star that Reyes could have been a good source of information on military corruption had he been convinced to testify in front of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
But the allegations against Reyes, also a former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, led him to excuse himself from the hearings.
On Monday, the Senate decided in a caucus to issue a subpoena to compel him to appear before senators.
Honasan said soldiers could take the pressure but "when your family and your good name are dragged in, it's a different matter already".
He added that Reyes's apparent suicide on Tuesday should prompt senators to go into an executive session to thresh out the rules of procedure in the hearings.
He also said the committee should decide on whether it will allow allegations that are not backed up by evidence.
"Nanganganak na ng nangaganak ito eh (the allegations keep adding up)," Honasan remarked about the allegations made by Rabusa.
Honasan, however, clarified that he is not criticizing the Senate committee and that the congressional inquiry should continue.
Call to defer probe
Senator Francis Escudero, co-chairman of the Senate hearings, called for a deferment of the probe.
"This would also enable all of us to take stock and gain perspective of recent events and the steps we should take in the weeks and months ahead with only the best interests of our country and people, as well as the men and women in uniform in the AFP, in mind," he explained.
In contrary, Senator Teofisto Guingona III said Reyes's death was untimely and a shock but it would not deter a Senate investigation into corruption in the military.
Guingona said it was unfortunate that the last time he saw Reyes was "under difficult circumstances".
He added that Reyes's apparent suicide will not stop Senate hearings on alleged corruption within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
"We are confident that Secretary Reyes shares with all of us the aspiration to help shed light on AFP-related issues and help reform the institution."
Death not graceful exit
Senator Francis Pangilinan finds it tragic that the Senate inquiries led to the former general's death.
"Death is not a graceful exit to such a distinguished officer as Secretary Reyes," he said.
Pangilinan added it would have been better if Reyes had chosen to testify at the hearings instead.
He also challenged former generals Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot to come clean on allegations that they diverted AFP funds while they were military comptrollers.
"To bring the system of corruption to light is to give justice and meaning to Reyes's death," he said, adding that Reyes was himself a victim of corruption.
"For how many sad stories must our countrymen be subjected to before we see true justice being served? Justice cannot be served this way; not through trial by publicity, but by a strong justice system," ended Pangilinan. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex