Fidel V. Ramos

Fidel Valdez Ramos CCLH GCS KGCR (Spanish: [fiˈðel βalˈdes ra.mos], Tagalog: [pɪˈdɛl bɐlˈdɛs ˈɾɐmos]; March 18, 1928 – July 31, 2022),[3] popularly known as FVR and Eddie Ramos, was a Filipino general and politician who served as the 12th president of the Philippines from 1992 to 1998. He was the only career military officer who reached the rank of five-star general/admiral de jure. Rising from second lieutenant to commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Ramos was widely credited and admired by many for revitalizing and renewing international confidence in the Philippine economy during his six years in office. He is the third oldest to assume the presidency, together with the current 17th president, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., next to Sergio Osmeña and Rodrigo Duterte.

Fidel V. Ramos
Ramos Pentagon.jpg
Ramos in 1998
12th President of the Philippines
In office
June 30, 1992 – June 30, 1998
Vice PresidentJoseph Estrada
Preceded byCorazon Aquino
Succeeded byJoseph Estrada
Secretary of National Defense
In office
January 22, 1988 – July 18, 1991
PresidentCorazon Aquino
Preceded byRafael Ileto
Succeeded byRenato de Villa
Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
In office
February 25, 1986 – January 21, 1988
PresidentCorazon Aquino
Preceded byFabian Ver
Succeeded byRenato de Villa
In office
October 24, 1984 – December 2, 1985
PresidentFerdinand Marcos
Preceded byFabian Ver
Succeeded byFabian Ver
Chief of the Philippine Constabulary
In office
1972 – February 25, 1986
PresidentFerdinand Marcos
Preceded byFabian Ver
Succeeded byRenato de Villa
Personal details
Born
Fidel Valdez Ramos

(1928-03-18)March 18, 1928
Lingayen, Pangasinan, Philippine Islands
DiedJuly 31, 2022(2022-07-31) (aged 94)
Makati, Philippines
Resting placeLibingan ng mga Bayani
Taguig, Philippines
Political partyLakas–Kampi–CMD/Lakas–CMD (2008–2022)
Other political
affiliations
Lakas–NUCD (1991–2008)
LDP (1991)
Spouse
(m. 1954)
Domestic partnerRose Marie Arenas
Children5 (including Cristy)
Residence(s)Asingan, Pangasinan
Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa[1]
Alma materUnited States Military Academy (BS)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (MS)
National Defense College of the Philippines (MNSA)
Ateneo de Manila University (MBA)
OccupationSoldier
Civil engineer
Awards
Signature
WebsiteOfficial website
Office of the PresidentArchived
Nickname(s)Eddie, FVR
Military service
Allegiance Philippines
Years of service1950–1988
RankGeneral General
Commands
See commands

Platoon Leader, 2nd Battalion Combat Team (BCT), Counter-Insurgency against the Communist Hukbalahap, 1951
Infantry Company Commander, 16th BCT, Counter-Insurgency against the Communist Hukbalahap, 1951
Platoon Leader, 20th BCT, Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, United Nations Command (PEFTOK-UNC), Korean War, 1951–1952
Duty, Personnel Research Group, General Headquarters, Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1952–1954
Senior Aide de Camp to Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1958–1960
Associate Infantry Company Officer at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 1960
Founder and Commanding Officer of the elite Special Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1962–1965
Chief of Staff of the Philippine Military Contingent-Philippine Civil Action Group to Vietnam (AFP-PHILCAG), Vietnam War, 1965–1968
Presidential Assistant on Military Affairs, 1968–1969
Commander, 3rd Infantry Brigade Philippine Army, 1970
Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, 1970–1986
Command and General Staff of the Philippine Army, 1985
Acting Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1984–1985
Vice Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1985–1986
Military Reformist leader during the People Power Revolution, 1986
Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1986–1988
Secretary of National Defense, 1988–1991
Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 1992–1998

Battles/warsHukbalahap Campaign
Korean War, 1951–1952

(Battle of Hill Eerie, May 1952)

Vietnam War, 1965 to 1968
Battle of Marawi, 1972

Ramos rose through the ranks in the Philippine military early in his career and became Chief of the Philippine Constabulary and Vice Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the term of President Ferdinand Marcos. During the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, Ramos was hailed as a hero by many Filipinos for his decision to break away from the administration of Marcos, and pledge allegiance and loyalty to the newly established government of President Corazon Aquino. Prior to his election as president, Ramos served in the cabinet of President Corazon Aquino, first as chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and later as Secretary of National Defense from 1986 to 1991.[4] He was credited with the creation of the Philippine Army's Special Forces and the Philippine National Police Special Action Force. After his retirement, he remained active in politics, serving as adviser to his successors. He died at the age of 94 from complications of COVID-19.

Early life and educationEdit

 
Rented family house of Narciso Ramos and Angela Valdez in Lingayen, where Fidel and Leticia Ramos-Shahani were born

Fidel Valdez Ramos was born on March 18, 1928, in Lingayen, Pangasinan and grew up in Asingan town during his childhood.[5] His father, Narciso Ramos (1900–1986), was a lawyer, journalist and five-term legislator of the House of Representatives, who eventually rose to the position of Secretary of Foreign Affairs.[6] As such, Narciso Ramos was the Philippine signatory to the ASEAN declaration forged in Bangkok in 1967, and was a founding member of the Liberal Party. According to Fidel Ramos's biography for his presidential inauguration in 1992,[7] Narciso Ramos also served as one of the leaders of the anti-Japanese guerrilla group the Maharlika founded by Ferdinand Marcos.[citation needed] His mother, Angela Valdez (1905–1978), was an educator, woman suffragette, and member of the Valdez clan of Batac, Ilocos Norte, making him a second degree cousin of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.[6]

He received elementary education in a Lingayen public school. Ramos began secondary education at the University of the Philippines High School in the City of Manila, and continued in the High School Department of Mapúa Institute of Technology. He graduated high school from Centro Escolar University Integrated School in 1945.[5][6] Afterwards, he went to the United States as he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Military Engineering degree. He also earned his master's degree in civil engineering at the University of Illinois and later took Civil Engineering Board Exam in 1953, where he placed 8th overall.[6] He also held a master's degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines and a master's degree in Business Administration from Ateneo de Manila University. In addition, he received a total of 29 honorary doctorate degrees.[5][6][8]

MarriageEdit

He married Amelita Martinez on October 21, 1954, at the Central Church (now known as Central United Methodist Church) in Ermita, Manila.[9] Together, they had five daughters: Angelita Ramos-Jones, Josephine Ramos-Samartino, Carolina Ramos-Sembrano, Cristina Ramos-Jalasco, and Gloria Ramos.[5][6] They also have five grandsons and three granddaughters.[10]

Military careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Ramos went to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he graduated in 1950.

During his stint at the Philippine Army, Ramos founded the Philippine Army Special Forces. Later, he was named as the commander of the Army's 3rd Division based in Cebu City, Cebu.

Ramos received several military awards including the Philippine Legion of Honor (March 18, 1988, and July 19, 1991), the Distinguished Conduct Star (1991), the Distinguished Service Star (May 20, 1966, December 20, 1967, and August 3, 1981), Philippine Military Merit Medal (May 23, 1952), the U.S. Military Academy Distinguished Graduate Award and Legion of Merit (August 1, 1990), and the French Legion of Honor.[6][11]

Korean War serviceEdit

Ramos was a member of the Philippines' 20th Battalion Combat Team of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) that fought in the Korean War. He was an Infantry Reconnaissance Platoon Leader.[6] Ramos was one of the heroes of the Battle of Hill Eerie,[12] where he led his platoon to sabotage the enemy in Hill Eerie.[13]

Vietnam War serviceEdit

Ramos was also in the Vietnam War as a non-combat civil military engineer and Chief of Staff of the Philippine Civil Action Group (PHILCAG).[6] It was during this assignment where he forged his lifelong friendship with his junior officer Maj. Jose T. Almonte, who went on to become his National Security Advisor during his administration from 1992 to 1998.

Martial Law under Ferdinand MarcosEdit

 
Chief of Indonesian National Police Lieutenant General Awaloeddin Djamin received an honorary visit by Chief of Philippine Constabulary Maj. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, AFP (left), December 1979

Implementation of Martial LawEdit

Ramos was head of the Philippine Constabulary, then a major service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines[14] which functioned as the country's national police until 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos imposed Martial Law.[6]

In his capacity as PC Chief, Ramos was head of the Command for the Administration of Detainees (CAD), which oversaw the arrest and detention of the Marcos regime's political prisoners, which included prominent politicians, journalists, academics, and student leaders.[15] In addition to arresting journalists, Ramos also took on the task of enforcing the closure of Media outlets on the eve of Martial Law.[16] Upon their arrest in the opening hours of Martial Law, prominent journalists Teodoro Locsin Sr., Chino Roces, Amando Doronila, Luis Beltran, Maximo Soliven, Juan Mercado, and Luis Mauricio were met by Ramos, who is quoted[16] as having said

"Nothing personal, gentlemen. I was ordered to neutralize you. Please cooperate. We'll try to make things easier for you."[16]

Because he was in command of the PC and was the person who issued arrest orders, Ramos is broadly acknowledged as bearing command responsibility for some of military brutality during this period.[17]: 434  In an obituary for online news website Rappler, his niece Lila Ramos Shahani[18] brought the matter up, saying

"The general sense I have gotten is that, as chief of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary under Marcos Sr., FVR had an idea about what was happening under his watch, but he did not directly order – let alone orchestrate – torture sessions, unlike General Fabian Ver, Marcos’ chief henchman. For this reason, several detainees have described my uncle to me as having treated them with far more decency (“mas matino”). This was eventually corroborated by official documents in the human rights class action suit against Marcos Sr. in Hawaii, where Ver is explicitly named, among others."[18]

In 1975, all civic and municipal police forces in the country were integrated by decree, and it became known as the Integrated National Police (INP), which was under the control and supervision of the Philippine Constabulary. As head of the PC, Ramos was ex officio the INP's first concurrent Director-General.

Last years of the Marcos administrationEdit

Martial Law was formally lifted nine years later on January 17, 1981, but Marcos retained absolute powers. Due to his accomplishments, Ramos was one of the candidates for the position of Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1981, as replacement to the retiring General Romeo Espino who was the nation's longest serving chief of staff. Ramos lost to General Fabian Ver a graduate of the University of the Philippines, whom Marcos appointed to the top military post. Instead Ramos, a cousin of Marcos was named AFP Vice-Chief of staff in 1982, and promoted to the rank of three-star general.

On May 12, 1983, a new unit in the former Philippine Constabulary was organized to deal with so-called "terrorist-related" crimes, and named as the Philippine Constabulary Special Action Force[19] as a requirement of General Order 323 of Philippine Constabulary Headquarters. Fidel Ramos and Gen. Renato de Villa were the founders of the unit. De Villa tasked Col. Rosendo Ferrer and Gen. Sonny Razon to organize a Special Action Force.[20] Subsequently, a training program called the SAF Ranger Course, was used to train the 1st generation of SAF troopers, which numbered 149.[21] Of that number, 26 were commissioned officers while the rest were enlisted personnel recruited from a wide range of PC units such as the defunct PC Brigade, the Long Range Patrol Battalion (LRP), the K-9 Support Company, PC Special Organized Group, the Light Reaction Unit (LRU) of PC METROCOM, the Constabulary Off-shore Action Command (COSAC), and other PC Units.[21] Later on, they changed the name of the course to the SAF Commando Course.[21]

On August 8, 1983, during a speech in Camp Crame to commemorate Philippine Constabulary Day, Marcos announced his removal of Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile from the chain of command, and the creation of a new arrangement with himself as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces replacing AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Fabian Ver. Marcos also removed the operational control of the Integrated National Police from the Philippine Constabulary under Gen. Ramos and transferred it under the direct control of Gen. Ver; the Constabulary then had only administrative supervision over the INP.

When Ver was implicated in the August 21, 1983 assassination of former opposition Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., Ramos became acting AFP Chief of Staff until Ver's reinstatement in 1985 after he was acquitted of charges related to the killing. Ramos later admitted he completely knew of the tortures committed during martial law, of which he had participated in.

Role in the EDSA RevolutionEdit

On February 22, 1986, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile protested alleged fraud committed by Marcos in the 1986 snap elections, withdrawing support and triggering the non-violent People Power Revolution. General Ramos later also defected and followed Enrile into Camp Crame, and the duo shifted their fealty to Corazón Aquino, the widow of Senator Benigno Aquino and Marcos' main election rival. On February 25, the "EDSA Revolution" reached its peak when Marcos, along with his family and some supporters, fled into exile in Hawaii with the assistance of the United States government, ending his 20-year rule, leaving Corazon Aquino to accede as the country's first female President.

Later reflections on Martial Law and the EDSA revolutionEdit

Later in life, Ramos would say he considered his role in the EDSA revolution as his "atonement" for his role in the implementation of Martial Law.[22] He also called on the Marcos family to apologize for the atrocities of the period,[22] and said that those who question those atrocities should visit the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, where the names of some of the victims of those atrocities are inscribed.[22]

Combat recordEdit

When belittled by the press regarding his combat record, Ramos responded with trademark sarcasm (July 31, 1987):

I fought the communists as part of the battalion combat teams, I went up the ladder. Battalion staff officer. Company commander. Task Force commander. Special Forces group commander. Brigade commander. All in different periods in our country. Huk campaign. Korean War campaign. The Vietnam War, and I was the head of the advance party of the PHILCAG (Philippine Civil Action Group to Vietnam) that went to a tiny province at the Cambodian border – the so-called Alligator Jaw – War Zone Z where even Max Soliven said The Viet-Cong will eat us up. Of course, we were physically there as non-combat troops. But you try to be a non-combat troop in a combat area – that is the toughest kind of assignment.

Korea – as a Recon platoon leader. What is the job of a recon leader? To recon the front line – no man's land. And what did we do? I had to assault a fortified position of the Chinese communists and wiped them out. And what is this Special Forces group that we commanded in the Army – '62–'65? That was the only remaining combat unit in the Philippine Army. The rest were training in a military division unit set-up. We were in Luzon. We were in Sulu. And then, during the previous regime, Marawi incident. Who was sent there? Ramos. We defended the camp, being besieged by 400 rebels.

So next time, look at the man's record, don't just write and write. You said, no combat experience, no combat experience. Look around you who comes from the platoon, who rose to battalion staff, company commander, group commander, which is like a battalion, brigade commander, here and abroad. Abroad, I never had an abroad assignment that was not combat. NO SOFT JOBS FOR RAMOS. Thirty-seven years in the Armed Forces. REMEMBER THAT. You're only writing about the fringe, but do not allow yourself to destroy the armed forces by those guys. You write about the majority of the Armed Forces who are on the job.

That's why we're here enjoying our freedom, ladies and gentlemen. You are here. If the majority of the Armed Forces did not do their job, I doubt very much if you'd all be here.[excessive quote][23]

Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and Secretary of National DefenseEdit

After Corazon Aquino assumed the Presidency, she appointed Ramos as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (1986–1988), and later Secretary of National Defense as well as Chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (1988–1991).[6]

During this time, Ramos personally handled the military operations that crushed nine coup attempts against the Aquino government.[24]

1992 presidential electionEdit

In December 1991, Ramos declared his candidacy for president. However, he lost the nomination of the then-dominant party Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) to House Speaker Ramon Mitra, Jr. Days later, he bolted from the party LDP and cried foul and founded his own party, the Partido Lakas Tao (People Power Party), inviting Cebu Governor Emilio Mario Osmeña to be his running mate as his vice presidential candidate. The party formed a coalition with the National Union of Christian Democrats (NUCD) of Senator Raul Manglapus and the United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines (UMDP) of Ambassador Sanchez Ali. Ramos and Osmeña, together with Congressman (later House Speaker) Jose de Venecia, campaigned for economic reforms and improved national security and unity.

He won the seven-way race on May 11, 1992, narrowly defeating popular Agrarian Reform Secretary Miriam Defensor Santiago. His running mate, Governor Osmeña, lost to Senator Joseph Estrada as vice president. Despite winning, he garnered only 23.58% of the vote, the lowest plurality in the country's history. The election results were marred by allegations of fraud as Santiago was leading the race for the first five days of counting but became second after a nationwide energy black-out, putting Ramos in first place. International media were already calling Santiago as the president-elect but withdrew their declarations because of the sudden change in positions in the vote tally. Santiago filed an electoral protest, but it was eventually junked by the Supreme Court. The quote, "Miriam won in the elections, but lost in the counting" became popular nationwide.[25]

These allegations were resurrected when WikiLeaks, in September 2011, leaked 1994 diplomatic note from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, recounting a private conversation between a diplomat and Joel de los Santos, a retired Filipino university professor who specialized in Islamic affairs. De los Santos alleged that Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi had channeled $200,000 (5 million pesos) to Ramos' 1992 election campaign.[26] Philippine election laws prohibit accepting contribution from foreigners.[27] Ramos dismissed the claim as "hearsay by itself, and is further based on a string of successive hearsay conversations" and challenged anyone who believed the claim to produce evidence.[28]

Presidency (1992–1998)Edit

 
Former Secretary of National Defense Fidel V. Ramos taking his oath of office as the 12th president of the Philippines on June 30, 1992.
Presidential styles of
Fidel V. Ramos
 
Reference styleHis Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Alternative styleMr. President

At the time of his accession in 1992, he was the first and only Protestant to date to be elected President of the Roman Catholic majority country and the only Filipino officer in history to have held every rank in the Philippine military from Second Lieutenant to Commander-in-Chief.

The first three years of his administration were characterized by an economic boom, technological development, political stability, and efficient delivery of basic needs to the people. He advocated party platforms as an outline and agenda for governance. He was the first Christian Democrat to be elected in the country, being the founder of Lakas-CMD (Christian-Muslim Democrats Party). He was one of the most influential leaders and the unofficial spokesman of liberal democracy in Asia.[29]

Domestic policiesEdit

Philippines 2000Edit

Ramos' policies were organized around a socio-economic program dubbed "Philippines 2000,"[30] which envisioned the Philippines achieving a newly industrialized country status by the year 2000 and beyond.

The five points of the program were:

  • Peace and Stability
  • Economic Growth and Sustainable Development
  • Energy and Power Generation
  • Environmental Protection
  • Streamlined Bureaucracy

Peace with armed groupsEdit

Contrary to expectations as a former military general, Ramos made peace with the country's various armed rebel groups, kickstarting the process by creating a National Unification Commission (NUC) and appointing Haydee Yorac to be its chair.[31]

Upon the recommendation of the NUC, Ramos eventually decided to grant amnesty to the rebel military officers of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) led by Col. Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan and Capt. Proceso Maligalig.[contradictory]

Ramos was instrumental in the signing of the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari in 1996.

Although he battled Communist rebels as a young lieutenant in the 1950s, Ramos signed into law the Republic Act No. 7636,[32] which repealed the Anti-Subversion Law.[33] With its repeal, membership in the once-outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines became legal.[34]

Economic reformsEdit

Economy of the Philippines under
President Fidel Ramos
1992–1998
Population
1992  63.82 million
Gross Domestic Product (constant 1985 prices)
1992  Ph₱ 718,941 million
1997 Ph₱ 893,151 million
Growth rate, 1992–1998 average4.9%
Per capita income (constant 1985 prices)
1992  Ph₱ 11,265
1997  Ph₱ 12,147
Total exports
1992  Ph₱ 250,610 million
1997  Ph₱ 743,469 million
Exchange rates
1 US$ = Ph₱ 29.47
1 Ph₱ = US$ 0.034
Sources: FIDEL V. RAMOS
[5]

During his administration, Ramos began implementing economic reforms intended to open up the once-closed national economy, encourage private enterprise, invite more foreign and domestic investment, and reduce corruption. Ramos was also known as the most-traveled Philippine President compared to his predecessors with numerous foreign trips abroad, generating about US$20 billion worth of foreign investments to the Philippines. To ensure a positive financial outlook on the Philippines, Ramos led the 4th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit in the Philippines in November 1996.

Under his administration, the Philippines enjoyed economic growth and stability. The Philippine Stock Exchange in the mid-1990s was one of the best in the world and his visions of 'Philippines 2000' that led the country into a newly industrialized country in the world and the "Tiger Cub Economy in Asia".[35]

Power crisisEdit

During Ramos' tenure, the Philippines was experiencing widespread blackouts due to huge demand for electricity, the antiquity of power plants, the abolishment of the Department of Energy, and the discontinuation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant during the Corazon Aquino administration. During his State of the Nation address on July 27, 1992, he requested that the Congress enact a law that would create an Energy Department that would plan and manage the Philippines' energy demands. Congress not only created an Energy Department but gave him special emergency powers to resolve the power crisis. Using the powers given to him, Ramos issued licenses to independent power producers (IPP) to construct power plants within 24 months. Ramos issued supply contracts that guaranteed the government would buy whatever power the IPPs produced under the contract in U.S. dollars to entice investments in power plants. This became a problem during the East Asian Financial Crisis when the demand for electricity contracted and the Philippine peso lost half of its value.

Ramos personally pushed for the speedy approval of some of the most expensive power deals, and justified signing more contracts despite warnings from within the government and the World Bank that an impending oversupply of electricity could push up prices, a situation that persists in the Philippines up to the present. Individuals linked to Ramos lobbied for the approval of some of the contracts for independent power producers (IPPs), which came with numerous other deals, including lucrative legal, technical, and financial consultancies that were given to individuals and companies close to the late president. Among the deals tied to IPP projects were insurance contracts in which companies made millions of dollars in commissions alone. All the IPP contracts came with attractive incentives and guarantees. Every contract was designed to give IPP creditors some degree of comfort in financing ventures that would usually involve huge capital and risks. Most IPPs were funded by foreign loans secured with a form of government guarantee or performance undertaking, which meant that the Philippine government would pay for the loans if the IPPs defaulted. The Ramos government continued signing IPP contracts even after the end of 1993 when the power crisis was considered solved. The World Bank came up with a report in 1994 warning that power rates would rise if the government continued to enter into more IPP contracts that would mean excess power. The World Bank questioned the ambitious projections of the government on economic growth and power demand from 1994 to 1998. It also warned that the power generated by private utilities' IPPs could duplicate those of the National Power Corporation and create an overcapacity. The World Bank said that the factors created considerable uncertainty in power demand, like substantial overcapacity, particularly under take-or-pay conditions and would require considerable tariff increases that would be unpopular with the public. It was said that, presidents since Corazon Aquino catered mostly to the needs of big business for power and allowed the private sector to profit from this lucrative industry rather than craft an energy plan that would meet the needs of the Filipinos.[36]

The country was considered risky by investors due to previous coup attempts by military adventurists led by Gregorio Honasan, and experienced blackouts at an almost daily basis lasting 4–12 hours during the term of President Aquino. The low supply of power and perceived instability had previously held back investments and modernization in the country. Under Ramos, the Philippines was a pioneer in the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme where private investors are invited to build certain government projects (i.e. tollways, powerplants, railways, etc.), make money by charging users, and transfer operation to the government after a set amount of time.

Death penaltyEdit

While campaigning for the presidency, Fidel Ramos declared his support for reinstating the death penalty. Capital punishment was abolished for all crimes in 1987, making the Philippines the first Asian country to do so. In 1996, Ramos signed a bill that returned capital punishment with the electric chair (method used from 1923 to 1976, making Philippines the only country to do so outside U.S.) "until the gas chamber could be installed".[37] However, no one was electrocuted or gassed, because the previously used chair was destroyed earlier and the Philippines adopted the method of lethal injection. Some people were put to death by this means, until the death penalty was abolished again in 2006.

Foreign policiesEdit

Spratly IslandsEdit

 
President Fidel V. Ramos troops the honor guards at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense William Cohen during a state visit in 1998.

In early 1995, the Philippines discovered a primitive PRC military structure on Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, one hundred and thirty nautical miles off the coast of Palawan. The Philippine government issued a formal protest over the PRC's occupation of the reef and the Philippine Navy arrested sixty-two Chinese fishermen at Half Moon Shoal, eighty kilometers from Palawan. A week later, following confirmation from surveillance pictures that the structures were of military design, President Fidel Ramos had the military forces in the region strengthened. He ordered the Philippine Air Force to dispatch five F-5 fighters backed by four jet trainers and two helicopters, while the navy sent two additional ships. The People's Republic of China had claimed that the structures were shelters for fishermen but these small incidents could have triggered a war in the South China Sea.

Migrant workers protectionEdit

A perceived weakness[according to whom?] of his administration was the situation in handling migrant workers' protection, a very major issue in the Philippines, as there are millions of Filipinos abroad throughout the world serving as workers in foreign countries, and their remittances to relatives at home are very important to the Filipino economy. On the eve of his 67th birthday on March 17, 1995, Ramos was on a foreign trip when Flor Contemplación was hanged in Singapore. His last-minute effort to negotiate with Singapore President Ong Teng Cheong and Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong never succeeded and Ramos' return home was marred with protests after his arrival in Manila. The protests also caused the resignation of Foreign Affairs Secretary Roberto Romulo and Labor Secretary Nieves Confesor from the cabinet. He immediately recalled Philippine ambassador to Singapore Alicia Ramos and suspended diplomatic relations with Singapore. He created a special commission to look into the case, which was in part an effort to try to rescue his sagging popularity.[citation needed] The commission was led by retired Supreme Court Justice Emilio Gancayco.

As recommended by the Gancayco Commission, Ramos facilitated the enactment of Republic Act No. 8042, better known as the "Magna Carta for Overseas Workers" or more formally as the Migrant Workers Act, which was signed into law on June 7, 1995. Learning from the lessons of the Contemplación case, Ramos immediately ordered the Philippines Ambassador to the UAE Roy Señeres to facilitate negotiations after learning of the death penalty verdict of Sarah Balabagan in September 1995. Balabagan's sentence was reduced and she was released in August 1996. After tensions cooled off, Ramos restored diplomatic relations with Singapore after meeting Goh Chok Tong on the sidelines during the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in New York City.

Asian Financial Crisis of 1997Edit

The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, which started in Thailand, was a major blow to the end of the Ramos administration, with him stepping down with a negative GDP growth. The economy was hit by currency devaluation with the Philippine Peso dropped to ₱46 in 1998 from ₱26 in 1997.[38] The same was true for the Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit, and Indonesian rupiah. Growth fell to about −0.6% in 1998 from 5.2% in 1997, but recovered to 3.4% by 1999. It also resulted to the shutdown of some businesses, a decline in importation, a rising unemployment rate, and an unstable financial sector.

Clark Centennial Expo ScandalEdit

Supposedly, one of his notable contributions to the Philippines was the revival of nationalistic spirit by embarking on a massive promotion campaign for the centennial of Philippine Independence celebrated on June 12, 1998. However, charges of alleged massive corruption or misuse of funds blemished the resulting programs and various projects, one of which was the Centennial Expo and Amphitheater at the former Clark Air Base in Angeles City, supposedly Ramos's pet project. The commemorative projects, particularly those undertaken at Clark, were hounded by illegal electioneering and corruption controversies even years after the Centennial celebrations. Clark Air Base at that point was already completely free of American interference and therefore conceived as a suitable venue for Independence Day. Since in 1992, all American military bases were expelled from the country due to the continuing protests of the Anti-Bases Coalition (ABC), founded by the late Sen. Jose W. Diokno and Sen. Lorenzo M. Tañada.

Later on it was revealed through a media exposé that a special report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) showed how the projects relating to the Expo site not only revealed the extravagance and inefficiency of the administration, but also served as a convenient vehicle to affect election fund-raising for the LAKAS political party of Ramos, which came at the expense of tax-paying citizens and was in direct violation of the Election Code. The Centennial Expo Pilipino project, intended to be the centerpiece for celebrating the 100th anniversary of the country's independence from Spain, also earned extensive criticisms for being an expensive white elephant project that disadvantaged the government at the cost of P9 billion, or 1.7 percent of the country's 1998 national budget.[39] Six ranking Ramos cabinet members and officials, headed by Salvador Laurel (former vice-president), chairman of the Centennial Commission, were cleared by the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan (People's Court). Ramos appeared before a Congressional Committee in October 1998 to help exonerate said officials of any wrongdoing.

Charter changeEdit

During his final years in office, Ramos tried to amend the country's 1987 constitution through a process popularly known to many Filipinos as charter change or cha-cha. Widespread protests led by Corazon Aquino and the Roman Catholic Church stopped him from pushing through with the plan. Political analysts were divided as to whether Ramos really wanted to use charter change to extend his presidency or only to imbalance his opponents as the next presidential election neared. He also intended to extend the term limits of the presidency to remain in power but his political rival Miriam Defensor Santiago went to the Supreme Court and negated extending the term limit of the president, which preserved democracy at the time.[40]

Administration and cabinetEdit

Post-presidency (1998–2022)Edit

ActivitiesEdit

EDSA IIEdit

In January 2001, Ramos was instrumental in the success of the so-called Second EDSA Revolution that deposed Philippine president Joseph Estrada and installed then-Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as president.[citation needed]

Estrada was later acquitted of perjury but found guilty of plunder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from public office and forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth on September 12, 2007, and pardoned by President Arroyo on October 26, 2007.

Ramos was Chairman Emeritus of the Lakas CMD (Christian-Muslim Democrats) Party, formerly known as Lakas NUCD-UMDP or the Partido Lakas Tao-National Union of Christian Democrats-Union of Muslim Democrats of the Philippines.

At the height of the election-rigging scandal in July 2005, Ramos publicly convinced President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo not to resign from office.[citation needed] Ramos, who was also hounded by charges of electoral fraud during the 1992 elections which were never proven in the Supreme Court, repeatedly stated that the scandal is nowhere as grave as that of People Power Revolutions of 1986 and 2001, citing factors such as the stagnant Philippine economy in the final years of the Marcos regime as well as the allegedly massive corruption of the Estrada administration. According to Arroyo, he also showed full support to her during the failed coups in the latter part of her presidency.[41]

AdvocaciesEdit

 
Ramos, then-Philippine Special Envoy to China, briefs President Rodrigo Duterte and the cabinet.

Ramos also unveiled his proposals for constitutional change of the country. Citing the need to be more economically competitive in the midst of globalization and the need to improve governance for all Filipinos, Ramos suggested that government should start the process of Charter Change with a set deadline in 2007 (by which time the new charter and new government would take effect). Ramos supported the transformation of the country's political system from the Philippine presidential-bicameral-system into a unicameral parliament in transition to a federal form.

Ramos represented the Philippines in the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group, tasked to draft the Charter of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). He was also a member of numerous international groups and fora, and was the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Boao Forum for Asia (also one of the co-founders of BFA) and co-chairman of the Global Meeting of the Emerging Markets Forum (EMF). Ramos was heavily recommended for the position of the United Nations envoy to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) in June 2006.

He served as the Carlyle Group Asia Advisor Board Member until the board was disbanded in February 2004. More recently, as a private citizen, Ramos was engaged in various private sector advocacies where he played prominent roles. These included; Chairman, Ramos Peace and Development Foundation; chairman, Boao Forum for Asia; Trustee, International Crisis Group (ICG); Member, Advisory Group, UN University for Peace; Honorary Director, General Douglas MacArthur Foundation; Founding Member, Policy Advisory Commission, World Intellectual Property Organization (PAC-WIPO); Honorary Member, World Commission on Water for the 21st century; Member, International Advisory Council, Asia House; Patron, Opportunity International (Philippines); Global Advisor, University of Winnipeg; Honorary Chairman, Yuchengco Center, De La Salle University; Member, Advisory Board, Metrobank; Honorary President, Human Development Network (HDN) Philippines; Lifetime Honorary President, Christian Democrats International (CDI); and Chairman Emeritus, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) Party.

Ramos was also a firm backer of the proposed Philippine Reproductive Health bill. During a meet-up with fellow RH bill supporters in May 2011, he urged President Benigno Aquino III to certify the RH bill as urgent, saying it is the "right thing" to do.[42] During his administration, the Department of Health under Juan Flavier launched an intense drive to promote family planning. Asiaweek reported in August 1994 that under Ramos, "family planning funding has quintupled." They also noted that President Ramos "has gone the farthest of any administration in opposing the Church's positions on contraception and abortion."[43] At present,[when?] Ramos was listed by the Forum for Family Planning and Development as one of its Eminent Persons.[44][45]

Ramos was a member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to support democratic leadership, prevent and resolve conflict through mediation and promote good governance in the form of democratic institutions, open markets, human rights and the rule of law. It does so by making available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today's national leaders. It is a not-for-profit organization composed of former heads of government, senior governmental and international organization officials who work closely with Heads of Government on governance-related issues of concern to them.

Ramos Peace and Development FoundationEdit

After his presidency, Ramos founded the Ramos Foundation for Peace and Development (RPDEV) with offices located in the Urban Bank Building (now ExportBank Plaza) in Makati. The foundation is a non-partisan, nonprofit, non-stock organization dedicated to promoting peace and development in the Philippines and the larger Asia-Pacific region. RPDEV supports Philippine national interests and people empowerment. Operating as a network of individuals and institutions inside and outside the country will serve as a catalyst for constructive change, a medium for fostering unity, stability, and progress, and a force for mutual understanding.[46]

Philippine Envoy to ChinaEdit

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte revealed in June 2016 that Ramos was the one who pushed him to run for office so that 'Mindanao will finally have a Filipino president'. On July 23, 2016, Ramos was appointed by President Duterte as the Philippine Envoy to China to strengthen bilateral ties again after a much-heated diplomatic war over the South China Sea.

On November 1, 2016, however, Ramos, stating that he miscalculated the possibilities and effects of a Duterte presidency, sent his resignation due to Duterte's drug war which has killed at least 8,000 Filipino drug suspects at the time. President Duterte accepted his resignation from the post on the same day.[47] He was replaced by veteran journalist Jose Santiago "Chito" Sta. Romana.[48]

After stepping down, while he continued to show support to President Rodrigo Duterte, he had been vocal in raising concerns and criticisms to his administration. In February 2017, Ramos raised his concern about impunity and unilateralism amidst the drug war.[49] In May 2017, Ramos criticized government officials who went with Duterte to Russia, claiming they turned the President's official visit into a “junket,” which the Palace later denied.[50] In September 2017, Ramos said the Philippines continued to “lose badly” under the Duterte administration.[51] Despite his criticisms, Duterte still saw him as his "number one supporter" and at the same time his "number one critic," and even called him his "everything."[52][53][54]

COVID-19 pandemicEdit

 
Ramos pictured on June 25, 2021 receiving his second dose of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine in Muntinlupa.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, he stayed under strict home quarantine and kept himself updated of the latest news including the pandemic.[55][56] On June 25, 2021, he completed his COVID-19 vaccination by receiving his second dose in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa.[57]

On March 18, 2022, on Ramos' 94th birthday, the Fidel V. Ramos Presidential Library was launched online.[46] It became the first and so far the only online presidential library in the Philippines.[58] It was later revealed that Ramos was already ill at this time, and was unable to take on visitors.[59]

2022 electionsEdit

During the 2022 elections, Ramos did not make public his endorsement but had pledged support for the presidential bid of Leni Robredo, whom he also endorsed her successful vice presidential campaign in 2016.[60] This was despite the fact that his party Lakas–CMD had earlier adopted her rival, Bongbong Marcos, who was the running mate of Lakas chairperson Sara Duterte, as its presidential candidate.[61]

DeathEdit

Ramos died on July 31, 2022, at the age of 94, at Makati Medical Center. His family announced his passing in a statement on Sunday, stating he died of complications from COVID-19, according to the radio station DZRH.[62] His family confirmed that he suffered from a heart condition and dementia.[63]

President Bongbong Marcos declared July 31 to August 9 as "national days of mourning", whereas all national flags are "flown at half-mast from sunrise to sunset" as a sign of mourning.[64] As per prevailing policies about COVID-19-related deaths in the country, Ramos' remains were cremated, making him the second Philippine president to have been cremated before initial burial after former President Benigno Aquino III in June 2021. His wake was held on August 4–8 at The Chapels at Heritage Park in Taguig.[65] On August 9, he was accorded a state funeral, which was the first for a former Philippine president since Diosdado Macapagal in 1997,[66] and his remains were inurned at the Libingan ng mga Bayani near former presidents Macapagal, Carlos P. Garcia, Elpidio Quirino and Ferdinand Marcos Sr.[10][67]

Approval ratingsEdit

SWS Net satisfaction ratings of Fidel V. Ramos (September 1992 – April 1998)[68]
Date Rating
Sep 1992 +66
Dec 1992 +60
Apr 1993 +66
Jul 1993 +69
Sep 1993 +62
Dec 1993 +65
Apr 1994 +67
Aug 1994 +55
Nov 1994 +49
Dec 1994 +50
Mar 1995 +24
Jun 1995 +26
Oct 1995 +1
Dec 1995 +2
Apr 1996 +17
Jun 1996 +19
Sep 1996 +21
Dec 1996 +24
Apr 1997 +50
Jun 1997 +49
Sep 1997 +35
Dec 1997 +40
Jan 1998 +13
Feb 1998 +20
Mar 1998 +15
Mar–Apr 1998 +30
Apr 1998 +19
Average +38

Honors and decorationsEdit

 
Ramos House marker

National HonorsEdit

Military Medals (Philippines)Edit

Military Medals (Foreign)Edit

Foreign HonorsEdit

Military medalEdit

International organizationsEdit

ReferencesEdit

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SourcesEdit

External linksEdit