To an ordinary Filipino soldier, going into the service means so many things– pride, prestige, honor, heroism, patriotism, nationalism, and sacrifice aside from the chance of getting a decent job with monthly pay. In my family, we have soldiers and I honor them for their service to the country, two were my uncles, one was my cousin who has transferred to the PNP.
In my reservist training, I had at least a feel of what it is like to be in the field training, holding a heavy rifle, rolling on the mud, crawling on the ground, standing under the sun, being hit by a fist, or kicked in the butt. Getting the rank is no way different from the pride that a student who seriously earned his degree would feel.
To sacrifice one’s life for the country is the greatest honor a true valiant soldier could have for himself and his family. Death in the battlefield is the reward to a soldier’s courage to defend the ideals of the nation for his fellowmen. He who pledged to serve his country even at the cost of his life, is a true hero, more so when he loses it for the sake of his countrymen.
I extend my sympathy to the grieving family of the late General Angelo Reyes, but I can not empathize with those people who think that the act of taking his own life is what makes him a hero. He is a hero and deserves the burial rites rendered to heroes specific to those who served in the military. Nevertheless, the military should go over with its honor system applied to funeral of a deceased soldier according to how he lived and died. The late general is accused of felony to his own country due to alleged corruption and plunder.
Considering that he committed suicide amidst a case that involved him to alleged corruption and plunder in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, I cannot agree to think that such act is heroic. This is totally dissonant to what I was thought in my history classes about heroes, to what I learned in psychology about courage, in philosophy about ethics and virtue, and in sociology about cultivation of culture.
Filipinos have great respect for life, that we can risk our life for others. We can fight for our freedom and all that is ideal for our country. Our life is for others, others can take it away from us, and we can give it up for someone. But we don’t take it by our self. Doing so is cowardice, a retreat from the life challenges. An honorable Filipino faces the threath of death that others bring upon him, but not mock his own death by killing himself.
Suicide is not martyrdom; it is the worst means of saving one’s face from others. Hence, it is not a selfless act of a hero, but selfish coward act of taking the shortest route to end self-inflicted misery. When former president Ramos and other military officials publicly told their views about the general’s death, they were clearly saying that such is a hero’s act for the general forsake his life to protect others and the nation’s institutions.
This infuriates me, because that ‘protecting others’ means covering up the truth and keeping the ‘instituionalized’ corruption in disguise of the military honor system. The late general must have still his conscience, but it was defeated by guilt or perhaps threatened by those who still linger in the darkness evil of corruption that plages the military.