MANILA, Philippines?(UPDATE 6) ?Sorry.?
That was the last word that former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Angelo Tomas Reyes apparently uttered as his sons and aides frantically carried him and rushed him to the hospital on Tuesday.
Doctors at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City tried to revive him for 45 minutes but failed.
Reyes, 65, who had also served as defense secretary and in other Cabinet-level posts, died from a single bullet fired into his chest, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said.
Eastern Police's District chief Superintendent Francisco Manalo said investigation showed that the gunshot wound Reyes sustained was ?self-inflicted.?
Ona said the wound on the left side of the chest near the heart was the cause of death. "He was dead on arrival (at hospital). They were not able to revive him,? he told reporters.
Reyes, together with his two children and a bodyguard, was visiting his mother?s grave at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City Tuesday morning, Feliciano Recorba, a cemetery maintenance staff, told Radyo Inquirer.
"He asked his children and bodyguard to go ahead and wait for him in the car,? Recorba said. A few moments later, a gunshot rung out, he said.
?Sorry? was the last word Reyes uttered as his shocked children rushed to the scene and found him lying on the ground holding a gun, Recorba said.
?Ang narinig ko po na sinabi niya ay ?sorry?, palagay ko po ay para sa anak [I heard him say ?sorry?, perhaps to his son],? he said.
Reyes, who loved his mother very much, had told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a previous interview that he would never do anything that would besmirch the name of ?my good mother.?
Reyes was rushed to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center at around 7:45 a.m., hospital spokesman Dr. Fernando Lopez said.
But Lopez said the former military chief already had no blood pressure, heart beat and respiratory rate, his pupils were dilated, was not breathing and had cold, clammy skin.
A gunshot wound, one centimeter in diameter and with entry point on the left side of his chest, was seen, Lopez said, adding that attempts to revive him failed.
"After 45 minutes, we saw no improvement and Secretary Angelo Reyes was declared dead at 8:32 a.m.," Lopez said.
The family of Reyes pleaded that they be given time to grieve as they asked members of the media not to turn the incident ?into a circus.?
And to Reyes? critics, their message: no flowers, no visits, please.
Reyes, who earlier suffered a mild stroke before the congressional investigations on the alleged AFP financial irregularities, had said he could not take anymore the smear campaign against his name and his family.
?Not my family,? he had said.
Reyes had in recent weeks made headlines after a former military budget officer accused him of siphoning off enormous amounts of money from state coffers while AFP chief of staff from 2000 to 2001.
Reyes was the military chief under then president Joseph Estrada, who was forced to stand down as the nation's leader mid-term after himself being accused of corruption.
Reyes also served as Cabinet secretary and a range of other high-profile positions during previous president Gloria Arroyo's term from 2001 to last year.
He had been secretary of the defense, environment, energy and interior ministries, as well as presidential adviser on anti-smuggling.
President Benigno Aquino III has repeatedly said Arroyo allowed corrupt officials to run rampant during her time as president. Arroyo has denied the allegations.
Reyes' former budget officer in the military, ex-lieutenant colonel George Rabusa, last week accused his then boss of receiving P50 million ($1 million) in send-off money from an illegal slush fund when he retired in 2001.
Reyes also regularly received millions of pesos in unaudited monthly allowances during his term, Rabusa told a Senate inquiry into alleged military corruption.
Reyes was among the top 10 graduates of the Philippine Military Academy Class ?66. He graduated as the class valedictorian in high school.
He went on to obtain two masteral degrees: Masters in Business Administration from Asian Institute of Management in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1991.
He took up International Defense Management Course in Monterey, California in 1983.
In 1987, he graduated No. 1 in Trust Operations Management Course conducted by the Trust Institutes Foundation of the Philippines at the Ateneo Business School, which eventually earned him a scholarship to the Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. With reports from Cynthia Balana, Nancy Carvajal, Inquirer; Radyo Inquirer