In the headline of Philippine Daily Inquirer last February 10, retired Philippine Navy chief Mateo Mayuga was quoted as saying that Angelo Reyes’ act of taking his life by shooting himself in the chest showed “extreme courage” and that it was an honorable thing to do.

I am not a military man so most probably I do not understand what exactly are the ‘extreme act of courage’ and the ‘honorable thing’ in taking one’s life. In plain language that is suicide, and every act of suicide is wrong. I do not and cannot judge the state of mind of General Angelo Reyes when he committed suicide. In this, he renders personal account with his Creator.

What I am referring to is the act itself of taking one’s life. Yes, we condole with the family, the loved ones and friends of General Reyes. I personally felt extreme sadness at his action and prayed for his soul. But sympathizing with him should not induce us to saying what he did was right. Let us not send a wrong message to the people, especially the young, that suicide is alright. No, it is all wrong!

Whatever troubles we find in life, we should be brave enough to face them. We are not owners even of our lives. We are but stewards. Taking one’s life is an act of escapism. It does not even serve the country in this case. The country, especially the foot soldiers who are struggling it out on the ground, need to know how the military spends its moneys.

I hope that this very unfortunate and sad end of General Angelo Reyes will not make the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Ombudsman and the Aquino Administration soften its commitment to root out corruption in our country. The corrupt people in government do not care at all at the grave sufferings they inflict on the nation and on the nameless people who are deprived of what is rightfully theirs. Let us not also be soft in the quest to right this wrong!

The Sacred Book warns us: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness” (Isaiah 5,20)

Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

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