Fidel Ramos, President of the Philippines who broke up with Marcos, dies at the age of 94

Fidel V. Ramos, a military leader, succeeded Corazon C. Aquino as president of the Philippines, and from 1992 to 1998 presided over strong economic growth, exceptional political stability, and reconciliation. with Communist insurgents and Muslim separatists, died Sunday in Manila. He is 94 years old.

The Department of Defense confirmed his death in a statement Sunday.

A longtime aide, Norman Legaspi, told the Associated Press that Ramos died at Makati Medical Center and that he suffered from heart disease and dementia.

In a country battered by the corrupt dictatorship of Ferdinand E. People’s Power,” to re-establish democracy, reform the submissive economy, and make peace with extremists.

As many Filipinos have done, it is understandable that Ms. Aquino restored democracy and Mr. Ramos restored the economy. In fact, she initiated many flourishing economic policies under Mr. Ramos, and he successfully defended Aquino’s fragile democratic government against repeated military ruins.

Mr. Ramos, the second cousin of President Marcos, is the son of a patriotic family passionate about community service. His father was an ambassador during the Second World War and foreign minister during the Marcos regime. Mr. Ramos is a graduate of the US Military Academy, served in the Korean War with the US Army and commanded a Philippine army during the Vietnam War.

He is also a scholar of contradictions. Filipinos are confused about the deeds and character of a Protestant who became the president of a Roman Catholic country, about a tough general who brought about liberal economic changes. economically, politically and socially in a country exploited for centuries by Spanish and American colonists and Japanese invaders. the infamous two-decade reign of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

Early in his career, Ramos was a loyalist to Marcos, who commanded a security force that violated human rights and arrested thousands of dissidents, including Aquino’s husband. , Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr., who was imprisoned for many years, exiled, and then assassinated on his return. Critics call Mr Ramos a ruthless henchman of Marcos.

But Mr Ramos, who insists he only enforces law and order, later hailed as a national hero for making the well-timed decision to break the truth with President Marcos, rang the bell. death for his regime and swore allegiance to the Constitution and Miss Aquino. She named him director of the armed forces and later minister of defense, and later endorsed him for the presidency.

Elected by a narrow majority, Mr. Ramos took office vowing not to become a copy of Ms. Aquino. “She has done her job, which is to establish political freedom,” he told the Far Eastern Economic Review. “But the second stage is to strengthen democracy. My priority is to unify the country.”

He reached peace agreements with two long-running guerrilla rebel forces, the Communist New People’s Army and the Muslim separatist forces of the Moro National Liberation Front, granting an amnesty. for thousands of people. He also purged the national police of 600 corrupt officers and cracked down on a series of warlords engaged in smuggling, drug operations and other crimes.

To revive the economy, he instituted reforms aimed at encouraging private enterprise, opening up trade and foreign investment. He has toured Asia and the United States, meeting with government and business leaders to highlight his country’s stable political environment, falling inflation and favorable exchange rates. By some estimates, he has generated $20 billion in new foreign investment in the Philippines.

He deregulated and privatized industries in an economy dominated by a few large companies, overhauled the government’s inefficient tax system, and encouraged family planning methods to reduce the risk of death. restrain population growth. To ameliorate unreliable power supplies, he reorganized the state electricity company, authorized new power plants, and made brown electronics companies a rarity.

National growth under Ramos rose from near stagnation to nearly 6% a year, before plunging in East Asia to 3% in his final year in office.

“The Philippines has proven to be a good model in the developing world to demonstrate that democracy and development are compatible,” Mr. Ramos told The New York Times in 1998. “Authoritarianism, while initially promoting rapid growth, is incompatible with the free market system, which must be transparent and predictable.”

Fidel Valdez Ramos was born in Lingayen, north of Manila, on March 18, 1928, to Narciso and Angela Valdez Ramos. His father, a journalist, lawyer and congressman, was a wartime envoy to Taiwan and Marcos foreign minister. One of Fidel’s sisters, Leticia Ramos Shahaniis a Philippine diplomat and senator.

After graduating from West Point in 1950, Mr. Ramos earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois and other degrees in business administration and defense from Philippine universities.

He married Amelita Martinez in 1954. She is survived by him, as are their four daughters, Angelita Ramos-Jones, Carolina Ramos-Sembrano, Cristina Ramos-Jalasco and Gloria Ramos. Fifth daughter, Josephine Ramos-Samartino, passed away in 2011.

After serving for Korea and Vietnam, Ramos returned to the Philippines in anger against the Marcos regime. He joined the dictator’s inner circle, one of the “Rolex 12” advisers received a gold watch, and was appointed commander of the Philippine Constabulary, a national security force specializing in countermeasures. with terrorists.

Banned by law from seeking a third term in 1972, Marcos declared martial law, citing threats from Communist and Muslim uprisings. Ruling by decree, he restricted civil liberties, shut down Congress and arrested dissidents, including Aquino, who was jailed for seven years and shot dead at Manila airport when He returned from exile in 1983.

The murder brought his widow into the political spotlight. Three years later, in a snap election allowed by Mr. Marcos because he thought she could not lose, Aquino was elected president. Mr. Marcos tried to get it back by inciting a military coup.

For Mr. Ramos, the head of the armed forces, the moment of truth came on February 22, 1986, when he had to choose between being loyal to Marcos and his former comrades, or supporting her. Aquino.

Near midnight, his command decision was communicated to troops across the country: “The New Armed Forces of the Philippines are behind the Government of President Aquino, elected and installed by the people. We must not betray our country and our people.”

Three days later, Mr. Marcos fled the Philippines.

Jason Gutierrez contributed reporting.

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