He has been considered one of the most influential elder statesmen of the Philippines in the 21st Century. This was born from a lifetime of service, first in the military and then in politics. He became one of the central figures in the upheavals of 1986. Later he would be elected President of the country in 1992, the first of a Protestant faith though, as he himself points out, it mattered not in his administration. Even after his term he continued to have the ear of his successors. To his supporters it felt as if he would always be around.
Reality stepped in this Sunday, July 31 as reported by CNN Philippines. Fidel V. Ramos, General and 12th President of the Philippines, passed away At Makati Medical Center. He was 94 years old. Although no official cause of death was given by his family, it was believed to have risen from a period of ill health according to Silvester Bello III, who served as acting Justice Secretary during the Ramos Administration. Radio station DZRH posited that the former President was suffering from COVID-19, and succumbed to complications from the disease.
In the wake of his passing Ramos, also known as FVR, is remembered by public supporters and political contemporaries. Among the latter is President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who declared a national period of mourning from July 31 to August 9, with flags to fly at half-mast morning to sunset. Ramos figured prominently in the People Power Revolution that ended the administration of Marcos’ father, Ferdinand Sr. But on social media President Marcos spoke highly of FVR, stating on Facebook, ““Our family shares the Filipino people’s grief on this sad day. We did not only lose a good leader but also a member of the family.”
Fidel V. Ramos was born 1928 in Pangasinan, and in his honor a Philippine professional basketball team in the short-lived MBA league called itself the Presidents for one season. A West Point Graduate, Ramos fought in the Korean War, served in Vietnam, and then became head of the Philippine Constabulary (PC). He was Chief of Staff in the Armed Forces of the Philippines when People Power happened in 1986, and was named Defense Secretary in the Corazon Aquino Administration. His record made him a solid candidate in the 1992 Presidential Election, which he won. The Ramos Administration was noted for securing peace with the MNLF and revitalizing the economy through the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Accolades to the late President were also given by his successors: Joseph Estrada, who served as Ramos’ Vice President; Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, current VP Sara Duterte. More honors came from the AFP with he once headed, and even the US Embassy to the Philippines and the European Union.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News