By Ellen Tordesillas
MANILA, Philippines – Former AFP Chief Angelo Reyes shot himself in front of his mother’s grave at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina.
He was brought to Quirino Memorial Hospital where he expired. It happened minutes past 7 a.m.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona who was at the hospital gave the official medical bulletin that Reyes was pronounced dead officially at 8:32 am.
Ona said that Reyes was Dead on Arrival from a single bullet wound in his heart. He had no blood pressure, cold and clammy, no vital signs, no longer breathing. But doctors tried to revive him for 45 minutes.
The past weeks, Reyes has been embroiled in the issue of corruption in the military after he was named by retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, former AFP budget officer, as having received P50 million as send-off money upon his retirement as AFP chief in March 2001.
Rabusa also said Reyes was receiving P10 million a month as allowance. His wife was also getting travel and shopping expenses from him.
Reyes’ name surfaced in the congressional investigation on the controversial plea bargaining agreement forged between the office of the Ombudsman and retired military comptroller Carlos Garcia.
Reyes was AFP chief from July 1999 to March 2001. His abandonment of his commander-in chief, the elected president Joseph Estrada in January 2001, led to a change of administration and the installation of Gloria Arroyo, then the vice-president as president.
Under the Arroyo administration, he was held various cabinet positions: defense, interior and local government, environment and energy. He tried to enter the House of Representatives via a sectoral group of transport operators, 1-UTAK but was disqualified.
According to the memorial park caretaker, Reyes with his aide and four members of his family arrived past 7 a.m. at the tomb of late secretary’s parents. The day before, the caretaker said Reyes was also there.
Towards the visit, when his companions were walking towards their vehicle, the park caretaker said, Reyes asked for private moments in front of his mother’s grave. he saw Reyes sitting. Then he heard a deafening gunshot. Police recovered an empty shell of a .45 calibre pistol.
DZMM was able to interview Rabusa, who is Reyes’ kumpare, expressed shock and grief. He said, “Nalulungkot ako. Hindi ko akalain na mangyari ito.”
Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said, “The Palace condoles with the family. We ask the public to respect the family’s desire for privacy. Give them time to grieve.”
Carandang said President Aquino is scheduled to meet the cabinet security cluster today and the Garcia plea bargaining agreement was inthe agenda. He said Reyes death would surely be included in the discussion.