LATE January in 2011 then Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes appeared before the Senate that was then investigating allegations of alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). A former AFP chief of staff, Reyes was accused of pocketing P100 million during his term, including a supposed P50 million “pabaon” upon his retirement.
To say that Reyes was chastised during the hearing is an understatement; he was bullied. It came to a point where he had to ask some senators to inhibit because they were biased. He and his lawyer ended up being threatened with contempt instead. Two of the senators were Antonio Trillanes IV and Jinggoy Estrada.
Two weeks later, on the day before he was scheduled to appear in the Senate hearing again, Reyes committed suicide, shooting himself in the head in front of his parents’ grave.
Trillanes condoled with the defense secretary’s family but said (“stressed,” according to a GMA News Online report) that he was not sorry about the treatment that his former superior received from the senators. They clashed during the Senate hearing, the senator said, because he had to put Reyes in his proper place.
That was seven years ago.
Last week, former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon appeared in a hearing on alleged corruption in the Bureau of Customs by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Richard Gordon. He had been detained in the Senate jail since last September as punishment for his refusal to appear and testify before Gordon’s committee.
“But he immediately tangled with Gordon,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, “when the senator mentioned that during his detention in the Senate, the committee had allowed him to hold parties there attended by his father and relatives, among others.”
His father has long been dead and he never had a party in the Senate, Faeldon remonstrated. Then he did the unthinkable, accusing a senator of exaggerating in his own chamber. “You have no right to tell me anything,” Gordon angrily reminded Faeldon.
But Faeldon ignored the warning, belittling instead the senator’s capacity to ferret out the truth. “You are very far from getting that, Your Honor,” he snarled. You will remain in contempt of the Senate, Gordon warned again to which Faeldon replied that he had no problem with that.
Faeldon is now languishing inside the Pasay city jail, transferred there by the unanimous vote of the senators. As in the case with Reyes, they obviously wanted to put him in his proper place. At least he’s alive.
Contrary to what Bob Dylan wrote, the times do not always come a-changing, do they?