Philippine general commits suicide amid scandal

A former Philippines military chief
embroiled in a corruption scandal has committed suicide, shooting himself in
front of his parents’ graves hours before he was due to appear before a  parliamentary investigation.

Angelo Reyes, 65, died from a
single gunshot wound standing beside his parents’ graves, minutes after he sent
his children and bodyguard back to their car to wait for him.

The former general, who was Philippines’
armed forces chief of staff from 2000 to 2001, was accused of receiving a
“golden handshake” of $1.2 million from an illegal slush fund into
which chunks of the army budget had been siphoned.

A former military budget officer,
ex- Lt Col George Rabusa also said that money diverted from key military units
into the slush pile were used to pay Gen Reyes and two other military chiefs
tens of thousands of pounds each month.

Gen Reyes – who also served in a
number of cabinet positions including secretaries of defence, environment,
energy and the interior – denied the allegations.

Close friends of Gen Reyes said he
showed no signs of being down about the inquiry and felt the allegations were
politically motivated.

The parliamentary inquiry was
headed by Jose Estrada, son of the former president Joseph Estrada, who was
forced to step down in mid-term by a popular revolt in 2001.

Gen Reyes, who was military chief
at the time, withdrew his support for the president, a key factor in his
downfall.

Gen Reyes was rewarded with the
post of defence secretary when the incoming President Gloria Arroyo took
office.