Former military chief Angelo Reyes, who died Tuesday, February 8, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, has been an influential figure in politics but his "stars were brightest under former President Joseph Estrada," according to Newsbreak executive director Glenda Gloria.
President Estrada was a successful movie actor before he ran and won as mayor of San Juan. Later, he became a senator, then vice president, and finally won the presidency in 1998, serving until 2001 when he was ousted during the EDSA Revolution or EDSA Dos.
In Gloria's article, "The Troubled Times of Angie Reyes" posted today at www.newsbreak.ph, she wrote that during the Estrada's term, "from 1998-to 2001, Reyes served as commanding general of the Southern Command, then the Philippine Army (for only 3 months in 1999), and eventually as chief of staff.
"Like Estrada, Reyes lived in San Juan; their mothers reportedly knew each other from way back. Reyes enjoyed Estrada's confidence so much that when one of the general's sons got married, he asked the former President to stand as godfather.
"This is why it took a while for him to be persuaded to join the anti-Estrada movement that by end-2000 had already snowballed," Gloria wrote in the article.
"During Estrada's impeachment trial in 2000, at least three factions in the Armed Forces debated the options on how best to deal with their commander-in- chief: Should they oust him by force, or should they simply withdraw support from him?
"In the end, Reyes, who espoused the most passive, least confrontational approach, prevailed," the article said.
Gloria cited other stories on Reyes. In "Angie's Coup," Newsbreak's inside story on the military withdrawal of support from Estrada in January 2001, "we said that hours after Reyes declared the military's break from Estrada, four generals raised to him a sensitive point: Since the military was making a crucial move, why couldn't it go a step further and dictate the terms for the transition? Reyes would hear none of it.
"We reported then that just three days after the jueteng scandal broke out in October 2000, Reyes received a letter from an Army colonel who noted that many of his fellow officers 'feel outrage deep within—outrage for having a "lord of all gambling lords" as their commander in chief.'
"The colonel told Reyes: 'You are about to make the most important decision of our life—a decision that can either lead this nation back to recovery and progress, or plunge it further down the road to perdition,'" according to Newsbreak's inside story.
Gloria also cited a story in Newsbreak's first issue in January 2001 where the respected political news website wrote: "It took Reyes three months, after consultations with civilian groups and fellow officers, to make his decision.
"Up to the last minute, some leaders of the anti-Estrada mass movement had serious doubts about Reyes. Word spread that there were officers and field commanders who were more prepared to strike. The bloc of former Tarlac Rep. Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco Jr. and Pastor 'Boy' Saycon openly talked about the supposed commitment made by 14 brigade commanders to join the Estrada Resign movement. The target date was November 25. The plot flopped," according to the Newsbreak story.
Gloria noted: "In contrast to his agitated peers, Reyes was a cautious man. For months, he spurned all appeals for him to abandon Estrada."
According to one source cited in the Newsbreak story, "Former Army chief Fortunato Abat met with him to ask him to advise Estrada to quit. Well, since Angie [Reyes] is a champion debater and Abat also loved to talk, they ended up debating."
"Our story added: 'Yet unknown to most, Reyes did agree to an aide's suggestion to try to persuade the President to quit first week of November ... But Reyes was stopped in his tracks, according to a source close to the general.
"'In a meeting in Malacañang on Nov. 4, 2000, the day of a massive rally at Edsa, the President told him straight that he had received reports that he, Reyes, was being invited by the opposition to a meeting.
"'Reyes denied it, but he probably felt then that the die was cast. For Estrada's spooks got it right: Reyes was to meet with the Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo the following morning. The meeting had to be cancelled. Still, Reyes's trusted officers continued to touch base with some anti-Estrada leaders and the Arroyo camp. And the chief of staff did his homework, projecting a neutral image while meeting with officers from different PMA batches to get their sense of the situation.'"
Gloria also wrote: "In his conversations with PMAyers during those difficult days, he told them, 'Think of the repercussions of what we do 50 to 100 years from now. We do not want a tradition of the AFP going against the leadership.' But when the people massed up at Edsa for the second time, Reyes moved and spelled the end of Estrada's term."
WIVES' CONNECTION. On Monday, February 7, during the Senate investigation of corruption in the military, Senator Jinggoy Estrada presented documents showing that Erlinda Ligot, wife of former military comptroller retired Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, traveled abroad 42 times from 1993 to 2004.
The investigation revealed that Ligot and his wife Erlinda allegedly owned several properties in the United States.
But what aroused Senator Estrada's interest were the 13 trips Erlinda allegedly took with Teresita Reyes, wife of then AFP chief Gen. Angelo Reyes, from 1999 to 2004.
Until his apparent suicide on Tuesday, February 8, Reyes was accused of pocketing P50 million in send-off gift (pabaon), when he retired in 2001 after 20 months in office, as well as a P5-million monthly allocation during his term. He denied the allegations.
In Gloria's article, "The Troubled Times of Angie Reyes," she traces the history of the wives' friendship: "Reyes' first brush with political power was under the Marcos years, when he served as military aide of then Prime Minister Cesar Virata. It was during those years that he got acquainted with former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot, who is also one of the subjects of an ongoing probe into military corruption. Ligot was then with the Presidential Security Command.
"Reyes' wife, Teresita, and Ligot's wife, Erlinda, would end up as close friends when Reyes became chief of staff.
"This friendship, in fact, was discussed at a Senate hearing last Monday following immigration records shown by Senator Jinggoy Estrada about the two wives' frequent foreign trips together," Gloria wrote.
The son of former President Joseph Estrada, Senator Estrada followed in his father's footsteps. He made a few movies, became mayor of San Juan, and then senator.
For the full story, go to www.newsbreak.ph.