Former Philippine President Fidel Valdez Ramos, who died on Sunday, was a combatant in the Korean and Vietnam wars and a survivor in the political arena, emerging from a high-ranking security role during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. winning the vote for the nation’s highest office. I was 94 years old.
Ramos became a hero to many for leaving Marcos’ government, where he headed the national police, bringing down the dictator in the 1986 popular uprising against his rule.
Others, however, would not forgive or forget his role in enforcing martial law under the Marcos regime.
Ramos, famous in recent years for holding unlit cigars, narrowly won a contested election in 1992 to replace People Power leader Corazon Aquino who knocked down Marcos. Despite winning less than 23% of the vote, Ramos quickly garnered 66% support and his presidency will be remembered during a period of peace, stability and growth.
“Our family shares the grief of the Filipino people on this sad day. We have not only lost a good leader but also a family member,” Marcos’ son, newly elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said in a statement. a statement.
“The legacy of his presidency will always be cherished and will forever be etched in the hearts of our grateful nation.”
Known as FVR, Ramos attended the US Military Academy at West Point and fought in the Korean War in the 1950s as a platoon leader. I served in the late 1960s in Vietnam as the leader of the Philippine Civil Action Group.
Ramos held every rank in the Philippine military, from second lieutenant to commander-in-chief. He never lost his military looks and swagger, repeatedly boasting “No odd jobs for Ramos”.
The former diplomat’s son has become the only Methodist leader in the mainly Catholic country.
His six-year administration opened the country’s economy to foreign investment through policies of deregulation and liberalization.
Ramos broke monopolies in the transportation and communications sectors. With special powers granted by Congress, he restored the ailing electricity sector, ending the debilitating 12-hour blackouts that plagued the country.
During his tenure, the economy surged and poverty rates fell to 31% from 39% under his social reform program.
Ramos fought right-wing, left-wing and Islamic rebels during his time in the military, but later held peace talks with all ‘enemies of the state’, including rogue soldiers who attempted near a dozen times to overthrow Aquino during his tenure.
I signed a peace accord with the Islamic separatists of the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996 and succeeded in reducing the number of Maoist-led guerrillas to over 5,400 rebels, down from 25,000 at the start of 1986.
Ramos was a multitasking workaholic and sports leader. When he was a military leader, he played golf and jogged at the same time, chasing his ball. His morning jog was legendary among his staff officers and even at 80 he was jumping to reenact what he had done in the 1986 uprising.