Ex-Philippine president Ramos, who helped oust dictator Marcos, dies at 94

31 July 2022, 14:14

Fidel Valdez Ramos
Fidel Valdez Ramos, former President of Philippines, speaks at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2011 in Qionghai, south Chinas Hainan Provinc. Picture: PA

Aides said he had been in and out of hospital in recent years due to a heart condition and had suffered from dementia.

Former Philippine president Fidel Valdez Ramos, a US-trained ex-general who saw action in the Korean and Vietnam wars and played a key role in a 1986 pro-democracy uprising that ousted a dictator, has died at the age of 94.

His family announced his death “with profound sadness” but did not provide other details in a brief statement that asked for privacy.

One of his long-time aides, Norman Legaspi, told the Associated Press Mr Ramos had been in and out of hospital in recent years due to a heart condition and had suffered from dementia.

Some of Mr Ramos’s relatives were with him when he died on Sunday at the Makati Medical Centre in Manila, Mr Legaspi said, adding the family would issue a statement on his death later.

“He was an icon. We lost a hero and I lost a father,” said Mr Legaspi, a retired Philippine air force official who served as a key aide to Mr Ramos for about 15 years.

Corazon Aquino
Corazon Aquino (Alamy/PA)

Press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said: “He leaves behind a colourful legacy and a secure place in history for his participation in the great changes of our country, both as military officer and chief executive.”

The US, the EU and other foreign governments expressed their condolences. “His contributions to the US-Philippines bilateral relationship and advancing our shared goals of peace and democracy will always be remembered,” the US embassy in Manila said.

Cigar-smoking Mr Ramos, known for his visionary “win-win” outlook, attention to detail, a thumbs-up sign and firm handshake, served as president from 1992 to 1998, succeeding the democracy figurehead Corazon Aquino.

She was swept into the presidency in 1986 after an army-backed and largely peaceful People Power revolt toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was also a cousin of Mr Ramos.

The uprising, which became a harbinger of change in authoritarian regimes worldwide, came after Mr Ramos, the head of the Philippine Constabulary, and defence secretary Juan Ponce Enrile withdrew their support from Marcos after a failed coup.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin then summoned Filipinos to surround and shield the military and constabulary camps in the capital region where the defectors and their forces dug in, sparking crucial government defections that eventually drove Marcos, his family and cronies to US exile.

Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos (Alamy/PA)

After Ms Aquino rose to the presidency, Mr Ramos became the military chief of staff and later defence secretary, successfully defending her from several violent coup attempts.

He won the 1992 presidential elections and became the largely Roman Catholic nation’s first Protestant president.

His term was marked by major reforms and attempts to dismantle telecommunications and other business monopolies that triggered a rare economic boom, bolstered the image of the impoverished south-east Asian country and drew praise from business leaders and the international community.

His calm bearing in times of crises earned him the moniker Steady Eddie.

A son of a long-time legislator and foreign secretary, Mr Ramos graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1950.

He was a part of the Philippine combat contingent that fought in the Korean War and was involved in the Vietnam War as a non-combat civil military engineer.

He is survived by his wife, Amelita “Ming” Ramos, a school official, pianist, sports and environmental advocate, and their four daughters. Their second child, Josephine “Jo” Ramos-Samartino, died in 2011.

By Press Association

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