Reyes's kin bar critics from wake-A A +A
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
MANILA -- The family of former Defense secretary Angelo Reyes is barring critics of the late official from visiting his wake at the Ascencion Columbary at the Arlington Memorial Chapels in Quezon City.
Patricia Daza, spokesperson of the Reyes family, said lawmakers who grilled the former Armed Forces chief-of-staff in the recent congressional hearings on alleged military corruption should not bother to come and pay their respects.
Reyes, who was at the center of the congressional probe, shot himself Tuesday morning in front of his mother's tomb at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City.
He was rushed to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, but was declared dead at 8:32 a.m. He is survived by his wife, Teresita, and five children.
Daza said members of the military who accused Reyes of involvement in one of the biggest corruption scandals to have hit the country's Armed Forces should also better not visit the wake.
She did not name who she meant, but Reyes's former friend and subordinate George Rabusa has spent the recent Senate hearings accusing the former general of profiting from diverted military funds.
Daza, however, singled out party-list group 1-Utak as one of the groups that "maligned and belittled" her former boss.
The transport group fielded Reyes as a nominee in the May 2010 elections. When a disqualification case at the Commission on Elections prevented Reyes from serving as a congressional representative, 1-Utak replaced him with another nominee.
No details on probe
Also on Tuesday, authorities declined to provide additional details on their investigation into Reyes's death.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Nicanor Bartolome said this is to give the family of the former general the time to grieve his passing.
"We will allow his family to have some privacy," Bartolome said when sought for additional details on their probe.
The official also did not say what kind of gun Reyes used, adding they would release the information after the investigation.
Reyes's family has also refused to have his body autopsied.
Injuries were grave
But doctors at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center (QMMC) said the injuries of the former defense chief were grave, making it impossible for them to save his life.
Dr. Ryan Collantes said the former general's injuries were so grave that he did not make it even if the QMMC was only around 15 minutes away from Loyola Memorial Park, where witnesses say he shot himself.
The bullet, which Health Secretary Enrique Ona said is believed to have pierced his heart, would have cut off blood flow to the rest of the body.
Without blood to bring it oxygen, the brain starts dying within five minutes, Collantes explained.
Ona added the shot was believed to be self-inflicted.
Dr. Fernando Lopez, head of surgery at the QMMC, said Reyes had no blood pressure or heartbeat when he was brought in. The former defense chief was also not breathing and his skin was described as cold and clammy.
Lopez also said that the bullet entered Reyes's left chest, under his fifth rib, and exited on the left side of his back. Entry and exit wounds were one centimeter in diameter.
Reyes, before he committed suicide, denied Rabusa's accusations against him in a letter to the House justice committee.
In Tuesday's hearing, justice committee chairman Niel Tupas Jr. read the letter dated February 7 and received at 6:05 p.m. to the committee.
The letter pertained to the inquiry being conducted by the House of Representatives on the plea bargain agreement of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia with the Office of the Ombudsman.
"I must beg your indulgence as I have really nothing to do with and I have no involvement in the plea bargain agreement entered by General Carlos Garcia and the government. I have no participation at all and I am not privy to the agreement," Reyes said in the letter.
"There is nothing I can contribute to the matter," he added.
Reyes was dragged into the controversy after the hearings extended to the alleged corruption in the military as exposed by Rabusa.
He was supposed to attend the House justice committee hearing Tuesday morning.
Reyes family to be invited to probe
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said that while 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 added that Reyes's wife and children may still be liable for the former general's alleged ill-gotten wealth.
Santiago said the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee could also invite Reyes's family to address allegations hurled against the former Defense chief.
At the committee hearing Monday, former military 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."
Call for caution
Senator Gregorio Honasan II, for his part, said Reyes might have been overwhelmed by the pressure of being accused of accepting money diverted from military funds.
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 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.
Honasan, however, clarified that he is not criticizing the Senate committee and that the congressional inquiry should continue.
The Senate justice committee vowed Tuesday to continue the probe, believing that Reyes himself wants to help the senators shed light on military-related issues and help reform the institution. (Jonathan de Santos/Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/AH/AMN/Sunnex)