Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to run into a prominent citizen of Iloilo City. He had come to inaugurate one of the medical offices at a healthcare facility that is owned by a company I work for. I guess he liked what he saw because he told me – “obrahon niyo ni sa iloilo, ha (do this in Iloilo).” He went on to say – “do this in downtown” – referring to Calle Real.
Sad to say, building a medical facility in downtown Iloilo is going to be a logistical and economic challenge especially given the other options in other parts of the city. Nevertheless, I went down to Iloilo and walked through Calle Real. I have to say that I had avoided going there (I have only been there once previously over the past 15 or so years) primarily because we say it’s kagarot to go there. I’m not sure what the exact English translation is but the term could mean irritating, congested, uncomfortable – all of those words together.
This time, I went on a Sunday afternoon. Traffic was not that bad as businesses were obviously closed and the shoppers had long migrated to SM City while the restaurant-going crowd no longer went to downtown. Despite my already low expectations of what I’d see, my experience turned out to be well below my already low expectations.
For one, I didn’t expect to see an abandoned building along Calle Real like the ones you’d see in seedy cities all over the world. I didn’t expect to see a boarded up lot along JM Basa Street. It also appeared that there have been efforts to clean-up and re-paint some of the buildings along this main thoroughfare. The end result only makes it worse as one (relatively) newly-painted building would sit beside another building whose owners probably don’t really care.
While googling “Calle Real, Iloilo City”, I discover that a Local Cultural Conservation Ordinance was enacted in 2000 to “to prevent further destruction of heritage sites in the city, preservation of the establishments and to be reused again for commercial, tourism, educational or institutional functions.” The impressively named and abbreviated, Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council (ICCHCC) is supposedly the overseer of whatever preservation efforts there have been.
I guess they had high hopes when this ICCHCC was set up. It’s also obvious that it has failed miserably in its task if my “man on the street” experience is to be any gauge. As we say in Ilonggo – “Te, ano natabo? Puro hambal, wala man resulta (So, what happened?All talk, but no results).”
I have always been one to appreciate the fact that life will be full of mistakes, the question is – what have we learned from them? If the preservation of downtown Iloilo is something more than mere lip service, what is being done now or do we again say – “Bay-i na lang da. Wala ta mahimo. Amo gid na ya. (Let’s just forget about it. We can’t do anything about it. That’s just the way it is.)”?
“Pobre man ang Iloilo. Wala na tubig, kahuluya pa sang downtown. Maayo lang may kuryente na (Poor Iloilo. It has no water and downtown is embarrassing. It’s a good thing, there is at least electricity now).
Part of one’s identity is the place that he comes from. In a sense, it’s his anchor. It’s a place one can always go to for succor, to remember the carefree days of childhood. When you see your hometown fade into obscurity through neglect and the absence of community pride – it becomes downright depressing.
If Calle Real is not saved, a significant part of the city will have died. And for many Ilonggos, a key part of their heritage will be relegated to the “baol” of old pictures.
The presumption of innocence, sometimes referred by the Latin Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty) is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, recognized in many nations. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In case of remaining doubts, the accused is to be acquitted. This presumption is seen to stem from the Latin legal principle that ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies).
Whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired…
If the respondent is unable to show to the satisfaction of the court that he has lawfully acquired the property in question, then the court shall declare such property, forfeited in favor of the State…
Source: Republic Act 1379 (Sections 2 and 6)
The death of General Angelo “Angie” Reyes is a tragedy that leaves many loose ends which may never be tidied up. Despite this, the congressional and Department of National Defense inquiries into alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines have made clear to Juan de la Cruz that this alleged corruption goes far beyond and involves far many more than just one Major General Carlos Garcia.
By taking his own life, Gen. Reyes will no longer be able to clear his name. Despite the general presumption of innocence unless proven guilty, Philippine law actually transfers the burden of proving one’s innocence on public officials accused of accumulating ill-gotten wealth. Gen. Reyes will now never be able to do that.
So what happens now? Does his death extinguish any criminal or civil liability? Or does this transfer the burden to his estate?
One wonders how someone like Gen. Reyes, an accomplished, intelligent and outwardly strong person, could make the choice of ending his life. One also wonders how someone like him could be dogged by numerous allegations of corruption in the latter half of his government career. Is the institution that he once led so corrupt that he eventually could have succumbed to accepted practice? Was he really a “fall guy” who fell on his sword rather than be forced to choose between betraying a benefactor or prospectively admitting to wrongdoing to salvage his honor?
We will never know the answers to these questions from Gen. Reyes.
But maybe, just maybe – by his committing this sacrifice Gen. Reyes intended to open a Pandora’s Box that forces us to think that this may be something where there really is more than meets the eye. Maybe, just maybe – Gen. Reyes wanted to save the institution that he loved – the AFP – from the rot from within. That by continuing to dig into this “where there is smoke, there must be fire” situation, the AFP may finally become the institution that he wanted it to become. He just may not have wanted to be the whistle blower, himself.
Maybe, just maybe by pursuing the cleansing process for the AFP – it can finally become the institution that Gen. Reyes idealized it as being. Then maybe, just maybe – the sacrifice of Gen. Reyes would not have been in vain.
And then, maybe only then will the officer and gentlemen finally rest in peace.
- Former Phil. Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes committed suicide over AFP fund mess (genzpad.com)
- “Angelo Reyes is dead.” and related posts (jessicarulestheuniverse.com)
- Libingan ng mga Bayani is Reyes’ final resting place – Inquirer.net (news.google.com)