Farewell ‘Steady Eddie’

His experience as a military general and his innate charm set the blueprint for what Philippine leaders should be: Tough when necessary, but with a caring heart for the common Filipino

Fidel Ramos, former president of the Philippines answers questions from journalists at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, 27 July 2005. Ramos said that embattled President Gloria Arroyo should be allowed to run as prime minister under the new parliamentary system she has proposed. “She should be allowed to run because for now she is innocent of any of the charges until proven otherwise,” he said. AFP PHOTO/TENGKU BAHAR (Photo by TENGKU BAHAR / AFP)

July 31, 2022

Fidel V. Ramos, the cigar-chomping former president who led the nation to a period of peace, stability and economic growth in the nineties, passed away on Sunday. He was 94.

His death was confirmed by his family in a statement released to the media.

“The Ramos family is profoundly saddened to announce the passing of former President Fidel Valdez Ramos. We thank you all for respecting our privacy, as the family takes some time to grieve together,” the statement read.

“We will announce wake and funeral arrangements in the near future.”

The retired police general, fondly known as FVR or “Steady Eddie,” served as the country’s 12th president from 1992 to1998 succeeding the late President Corazon Aquino whom he helped assume power.

Cool under fire Former President Fidel V. Ramos navigated the Philippines through turbulent waters in the nineties with his unique brand of leadership. Under his administration, Ramos managed to avert a power crisis and steer the economy to greater heights. | TENGKU BAHAR/ NOEL CELIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

EDSA Revolution hero

Ramos is best remembered for his key role in the historic 1986 EDSA Revolution that ended the 20-year rule of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

As chief of the Philippine Constabulary, he joined then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile in breaking away from the Marcos government.

With the help of millions of Filipino civilians who filled EDSA to protect rebel soldiers held out at Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo, the peaceful revolution ended with the Marcos family fleeing Malacañang Palace.

Upon the assumption of Aquino, Ramos was named Armed Forces chief of staff and later headed the Defense department.

Ramos as president

After the term of Aquino, Ramos ran and won as president.

Rarely showing anger or excitement behind his silver-rimmed glasses, Ramos took the bull by the horns in resolving the power crisis during the onset of his presidency.

Ramos sought and was given emergency powers to issue licenses to independent power producers to construct power plants within 24 months.

The crisis led to the creation of the Department of Energy.

‘Tiger economy’

During his term, the Philippines was recognized as a budding “tiger economy” after encouraging private enterprise, inviting foreign and domestic investment and reducing corruption.

He introduced the 2000 Philippines Five-Point program: Peace and stability, economic growth and sustainable development, energy and power generation, environmental protection and streamlined bureaucracy.

To combat crime, he signed the bill reinstating the death penalty. Some people were put to death by lethal injection until death penalty was abolished again in 2006.

Ramos made peace with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari in 1996 and signed into a law that repealed the Anti-Subversion Law.

Nation mourns death

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. led the nation in mourning the untimely demise of Ramos.

Marcos tweeted: “I extend my deepest condolences to the family of former President Fidel Valdez Ramos who passed away today having lived a full life as a military officer and public servant.”
Earlier, Malacañang issued a message of sympathy to the Ramos family.

“It is with great sorrow that we learn of the passing of former president Fidel V. Ramos. He leaves behind a colorful legacy and a secure place in history for his participation in the great changes of our country, as both as military officer and chief executive,” said Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles.

Enrile was stunned by the news.

“I’ve just heard about it now. I would like to extend my condolence to his wife, Ming Ramos, and his children. I haven’t seen him for quite a time now, I think about three years ago because I don’t go out. I think he was bedridden or he could not recognize his comrades in the military,” said the former Senate president.

“We met most of the time when I go to Camp Aguinaldo during functions of the military. Socially, we never saw each other.”

Lawmakers paid tribute to Ramos’ contributions.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez said Ramos will be remembered as one of the Filipino leaders that took good governance to heart.

“His experience as a military general and his innate charm set the blueprint for what Philippine leaders should be: Tough when necessary, but with a caring heart for the common Filipino. FVR is a tough act to follow. His legacy will never be forgotten,” Romualdez said.

Ramos was chairman emeritus of Lakas-CMD which Romualdez now heads.

“We all grieve because we lost a great leader and a dear friend. One who is a pillar of strength, and an inspiration to all,” he said.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said: “We have lost a truly brilliant man. He was probably one of our brightest leaders, who always seemed a step ahead of everyone.”

“Maybe it was his military background, but as a politician he was always able to quickly assess the landscape, and formulate the best way forward through consultation and consensus. That was his legacy as President — he left behind a brand of democratic leadership that allowed for us to grow into the new Asian tiger of the nineties,” he added.

SENATOR Christopher ‘Bong’ Go (left) shares a light moment with former President Fidel V. Ramos in this undated file photo. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SBG

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said: “FVR, as he is fondly called, paved the way for our global competitiveness under his Philippines 2000 platform. The many success stories under his administration become relevant again as we gradually emerge from the pandemic and regain our position in the regional economic arena.”

For his part, Senator Ralph Recto describes the late former president as “brave in war, industrious in work, visionary in public service, and helpful to his fellowmen.”

He said Ramos was the Steady Eddie who led by infectious and inspiring example from Korea’s trenches to Malacañang’s corridors.

“Whether in the battlefield or in the bureaucracy, he was daring in deeds and bold in thinking. He was driven by this Protestant-Ilocano-West Point work ethic which ingrained in him the habit of rising before dawn and toiling ‘til midnight. In all the offices he held, he was the first man in and the last man out of the office,” he said.

Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. said he considers Ramos as his father in public service.

“It was President Ramos who convinced me to join public service as he invited me to Lakas-CMD. After some three decades, I continue to be with Lakas espousing its ideals,” Revilla said. “He was my first and true mentor as I forayed into politics, being elected as Cavite’s vice governor in 1995. Up to this day, FVR is an inspiration and an example I greatly look up to.”

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said: “His death, in many ways, is the end of an era. As the country reevaluates his times, he will no longer see this country’s destiny — a destiny he had nonetheless helped shape, as both critics and sympathizers would acknowledge.”

Avid golfer, sportsman

Ramos was a true sportsman, an avid golfer. He took pride in shooting his age in golf and had a great time with golf legend Tiger Woods who once visited the country.

His wife Amelita was president of the badminton association and daughter Cristy once served as president of the Philippine Olympic Committee.

“President Ramos knew, understood and practiced good governance and the integrated approach to sports development,” said former Philippine Sports Commission chairperson Philip Ella Juico.

“He caused, encouraged and supported the preparation of the country’s first-ever master plan for sports development. He knew the logic of sports and believed that excellence in sports even by small nations is possible because sports is founded on the principle of fair play and common rules. He understood that excellence in sports reflects a nation’s resolve. A great leader worth emulating.”

Lawyer’s son

Ramos was born on 18 March 1928 in Lingayen, Pangasinan and grew up in Asingan. His father, Narciso Ramos (1900-1986), was a lawyer, journalist and five-term legislator of the House of Representatives.

His mother, Angela Valdez, was an educator, woman suffragette and member of the respected Valdez clan of Batac, Ilocos Norte.

He obtained a degree in civil engineering at National University and joined the United States Military Academy where he graduated with a military engineering degree. He had a master’s degrees in civil engineering at University of Illinois, national security administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines and business administration from Ateneo de Manila University.

He married Amelita Martinez on 21 October 1954, and together they have five daughters: Angelita Ramos-Jones, Josephine Ramos-Samartino, Carolina Ramos-Sembrano, Cristina Ramos-Jalasco and Gloria Ramos.

EDJEN OLIQUINO AND GAB HUMILDE VILLEGAS


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