Political Suicide

Ben Kritz

… Far from sending any sort of message, a suicide leaves layers upon layers of questions, particularly so when the “victim” is a public figure whose action is intimately related in one way or another to the business of The People. As Benign0 asked a few days ago:

“Who are we to judge Angelo Reyes? Who are we to presume to judge the circumstances of his death — an apparent suicide as the Media reports say? And if indeed, Reyes killed himself do we really believe that the state of his mind moments before his death could ever be knowable?”

Indeed, it can’t be; the person who takes his own life must be in a very dark place, a place that means something, but means something to him and him alone. Sometimes the motivation, or rather an aspect of it, is circumstantially apparent; Budd Dwyer, for example, could save his pension and insurance for his family (and the huge legal bills he had incurred) by dying in office. But he never gave that reason, and the reasons he did give made no sense to anyone, and maybe didn’t even make sense to him. And as much can be said of the clues Angelo Reyes left behind in his distraught ramblings to a few friends in his last days.

Any judgment of the suicide itself is pure speculation; it is as prejudicial to consider the dead man “honorable” for choosing to be that way as it is to characterize the suicide as an admission of guilt. Those are nothing more than characterizations of our own reactions to it, and not any sort of truth. The suicide takes the truth with him, and that’s what makes it an ultimately selfish act. Whether there is honor or shame in the act, however, is a matter of sentiment; taboos, after all, are relative. In the end, that is the real tragedy of suicide: that so deliberate an act changes so little.


  1. a balanced, nice article by benK.

    but still, it leaves me puzzled. if an act is “ultimately selfish”, is there sense in saying that a suicide is good (good in any sense)?

    if an act is “selfish”, how can it bring honor?

  2. “Those are nothing more than characterizations of our own reactions to it, and not any sort of truth. The suicide takes the truth with him,…”-Ben Kritz

    Hehehe, what has truth anything to do with personal reactions or personal opinions about what are in the mind of a another person, dead or alive. Of course, any reaction or opinion regarding what’s in the mind of General Reyes when he committed suicide is pure speculation, not truth.

    Well, too bad my crystal ball is still down, if it’s working I sure can sure tell you what’s in the mind of General Reyes when he committed suicide, and it will be the truth, :).

  3. Nothing justifies suicide. The rich and powerful are singing praises because he’s one of them. Stop sensationalizing this unless of course we are proud if our sons do what this guy did. Enough with hypocrisy.

  4. My personal take on it is that no, suicide is not honorable, from the standpoint of imposing burdens — emotional or practical or both — on others. Another thing that seriously disturbs me about the “honorable suicide” idea is that it implies some benefit to others. Profit from death. That’s not a good thing.

    Of course, I’m a relativist. I can’t say with absolute confidence that ALL suicides are without some positive outcome — as far as I know they are, but I might learn something more someday that will modify my perceptions. And I believe there’s a difference between “suicide” and “self-sacrifice”. People do suicidal things sometimes and positively cover themselves in honor by doing so. Someone who dies saving someone else’s life, for example. The difference is in the goal they have. The soldier who makes a last stand he knows is futile to give his fellow soldiers time to escape is not making a priority of dying. Someone like Angelo Reyes (assuming he actually did commit suicide, which I still harbor doubts about) is not making “a last stand” with another goal in mind. He (just like Budd Dwyer) seems to have imagined/hoped for/assumed some effect resulting from his death, and that’s wrong. More honorable to strive for the effect, even if death is a collateral result.

  5. BenK ;) curious that you still harbor doubts that it was suicide, and you’re not the only one… would not his family be first to raise such questions? unless of course they’d rather cover it up too? what a mess. now comes this pcij piece by malou mangahas “A warrior comes clean in last battle for honor” where he does no such thing. the pcij site is down because of too much traffic but it’s being posted in facebook.

  6. UP nn grad

    GMAnews-dot-TV has the mangahas-interview also.

    “They” have begun another spin, read the article and you’ll find where it says that Rabusa accuses only one person — Reyes — of “pabaon”. Only Reyes.

    It looks like the spin again spins, I suppose so there will be no more investigations into Cimatu or other beneficiaries of “pabaon”.

  7. manuelbuencamino

    Why is it that somewhere in the background, behind all the those high words about giving up one’s life to save an institution, I hear a collective sigh of relief that Reyes spilled his blood instead of spilling the beans

  8. UP nn grad

    Many Filipinos recognize that PresidentNoynoy Aquino’s responsibilities (leader and affects lives of 50-plus million citizens) outweigh Lucio Tan’s responsibilities, and therefore PresidenteNoynoy’s total income should at least match Lucio Tan. Is this the same mindset among the members of AFP, Congress, Malacanang towards the “pabaon” of the retiring AFP chief of staff?