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Fidel Valdez Ramos

Fidel Valdez Ramos was born on March 18, 1928 in Lingayen, Pangasinan. His father, Narciso Ramos (1900-1986), was a lawyer, crusading journalist and 5-term legislator of the House of Representatives, who eventually rose to the position of Secretary of Foreign Affairs. As such, Narciso Ramos was the Philippine signatory to the ASEAN declaration forged in Bangkok in 1967 and was one of the founding fathers of the Liberal Party. His mother, Angela Valdez-Ramos (1905-1977), was an educator, woman suffragette and daughter of the respected Valdez clan of Batac, Ilocos Norte making him a second degree cousin to Ferdinand Marcos. He took his elementary education in Lingayen and secondary education at the University of the Philippines Integrated School and Centro Escolar University Integrated School.

In 1946, Ramos, barely months after enrolling in the Philippines’ National University, joined the Philippine Military Academy as cadet and won a government scholarship to the United States Military Academy in West Point. He pursued further studies in engineering following his graduation from West Point in 1950, obtaining a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering in the University of Illinois, where he was also a government scholar in 1951. He is a licensed civil engineer in the Philippines, passing the board exams in 1953 and finishing in the top 10. In 1960, he topped Special Forces-Psy Operations-Airborne course at the United States Army Infantry School at Fort Benning.

Ramos also holds a Master’s Degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the Ateneo de Manila University.

In his military career, Ramos rose from 2nd Lieutenant infantry platoon leader in the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) in 1952 during the Korean War to Chief of Staff of the Philippine Civil Action Group to Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. He is instrumental in founding the Philippine Army Special Forces, an elite paratroop unit skilled in community development as well as fighting communist insurgents. Ramos, along with the Philippines’ 20th Battalion Combat Team and his fellow West Point graduates of the 1950s, fought in the Korean War. Ramos was one of the heroes of the Battle of Hill Eerie,where he led his platoon to sabotage the enemy in Hill Eerie. He was also present in the Vietnam War as a non-combat civil military engineer.

Ramos has received several military awards including the Philippine Legion of Honor, the Gold Cross, Philippine Military Merit Medal, the United States Legion of Merit, the French Legion of Honor and the U.S. Military Academy Distinguished Award.

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."

Ramos served the Marcos regime for more than 20 years. He was head of the Philippine Constabulary, the country’s national police force, and was one of Marcos’ trusted advisers. He was a member of the infamous Rolex 12, an elite group of conspirators loyal to Marcos himself. Due to his accomplishments, Ramos became one of the candidates to become the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1981, to replace retiring General Romeo Espino. longest Martial law, chief of staff. However, Marcos instead opted and appointed his trusted military officer, General Fabian Ver, a graduate of the University of the Philippines, into the top military post. Thus, Ramos, Marcos' cousin was named AFP Vice-Chief of staff in 1982, became the military's second most powerful official after Ver and receiving the rank of three-star general.

On 8 August 1983, during a speech in Camp Crame to commemorate Philippine Constabulary Day, Marcos announced his removal of Defense Secretary 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 until AFP Chief of Staff Ver. Marcos also removed the operational control of the Integrated National Police from the Philippine Constabulary under Ramos and transferred it under direct control of Ver; the Constabulary then had only administrative supervision over the INP.

When Ver was implicated in the 21 August 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 at this time also formed the Special Action Force of the Philippine Constabulary to deal with terrorist-related crimes.

On 22 February 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 Corazon Aquino, the widow of Senator Aquino and Marcos' main election rival.

Their move became the living symbol of military defiance against Marcos. The military followed his lead and swung the pendulum in Aquino’s favor. During the historic 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, Ramos was hailed as a hero by many Filipinos for his decision to breakaway from the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos and pledge allegiance and loyalty to the newly established government of President Aquino.

On 25 February, 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 Aquino to accede as the country's first female President.

After Aquino assumed the Presidency, she appointed Ramos Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and later Secretary of National Defense. During this time, Ramos personally handled the military operations that crushed seven coup attempts against the Aquino government. After the coup, the National Unification Commission was created, and its chairman Haydee Yorac, together with Ramos, recommended to President Aquino the granting of amnesty to the rebel military officers of the Reform the Armed forces Movement (RAM) led by Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan. After the amnesty was accepted, Ramos ordered the rebel soldiers to make 50 push ups as punishment.

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 Osmena 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 Osmena, 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. 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.

At the time of his assumption into power, Ramos was the oldest person to become President of the Philippines at the age of 64. He was also the first Protestant President of the 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 few years of his administration (1992–1995) were characterized by economic boom, technological development, political stability and efficient delivery of basic needs to the people.

Under Ramos, the Philippines experienced a period of political stability and rapid economic growth and expansion, as a result of his policies and programs designed to foster national reconciliation and unity. Ramos was able to secure major peace agreements with Muslim separatists, communist insurgents and military rebels, which renewed investor confidence in the Philippine economy. Ramos also aggressively pushed for the deregulation of the nation's major industries and the privatization of bad government assets. As a result of his hands-on approach to the economy, the Philippines was dubbed by various internationally as Asia's Next Economic Tiger.

However, the momentum in the economic gains made under his administration was briefly interrupted during the onset of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Nevertheless, during the last year of the term, the economy managed to make a rebound since it was not severely hit by the crisis as compared to other Asian economies. He also oversaw the Philippine Centennial Independence celebrations in 1998.

Ramos was accused of condoning human rights violations due to his role in the imposition of Martial Law during the Marcos era; he was the commanding officer of the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police, and one of the most trusted and favored generals of Marcos, as well as a cousin. Of his martial law record, Primitivo Mijares has this for Ramos: "In the military, I could only point out to Major General Fidel V. Ramos, Constabulary chief, as the only relatively clean ranking officer of the armed forces."

In January 2001, Ramos was instrumental in the success of the so-called second EDSA Revolution that deposed the properly elected Philippine president Joseph Estrada and placed then-Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the presidential seat.



NEWSLETTER
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