The diplomatic community in Manila has paid tribute to the legacy of former President Fidel Ramos in steering the country to a tiger economy status, as they expressed condolences to his wife, former First Lady Amelita “Ming” Ramos, his family, and to the Filipino people.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Ramos was widely considered a foreign policy president who shaped the evolution of the DFA. “Among the reforms that he instituted during his six-year term are economic diplomacy and protection of overseas Filipinos as pillars of Philippine foreign policy.”
Ramos, considered as the most traveled Philippine president, lured foreign investors and those trips generated about $20 billion worth of foreign investments to the Philippines. The DFA said in those visits, Ramos “focused on the post-Cold War opportunities offered in multilateral and economic diplomacy, and raise the profile of the Philippines in the region and globally.” He also led the 4th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit in Subic in 1996.
It was also during Ramos’s term when Filipino maid Flor Contemplacion was hanged in Singapore in 1994, triggering protests and forcing Ramos to let go of his two Cabinet secretaries—Roberto Romulo and Nieves Confessor—and severed diplomatic ties with Singapore. But Ramos spearheaded the reforms needed to promote the welfare of OFWs and their families by collaborating with Congress to pass The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act.
His father, Narciso R. Ramos, was the former Foreign Affairs Secretary. He also had two siblings who served in the foreign service — former DFA Undersecretary Leticia Ramos-Shahani and former Ambassador Lolita Haney. He was also a member of the United Nations contingent, the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea that fought in the 1950 Korean War.
“President Ramos demonstrated a keen understanding of government service and a strong work ethic that inspired generations of public servants…The DFA will always be grateful for his visionary leadership and contributions to Philippine foreign policy,” the DFA added.
Former DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Ramos “without any self-regard, stood by Cory and protected the restored democracy, just as Lee Kwan Yew assured Cory he would when the chips are down.”
“He was more than just a President; he was a defender of democracy when it had no allies left. I know. I was there with him. The rest just talked and hyperventilated; he and a handful of us fought. And won. The Presidency was just icing on his greatest moments,” Locsin tweeted, apparently referring to the 1989 attempted coup d’etat that nearly toppled President Cory Aquino.
Philippine Ambassador to The Netherlands J. Eduardo Malaya believes Ramos is “one of the greatest leaders the Philippines ever had.”
“Ramos took on the country’s toughest job with the mind of an engineer and the discipline of a soldier,” Malaya said.
On Facebook, Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian posted:
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Former President Fidel Valdez Ramos and would like to extend sincerest condolences to his family on behalf of the Chinese Embassy and in my own name.
Former President Fidel Valdez Ramos was well known in China for his friendship and contribution to the bilateral relationship between our two countries. He was one of the first to propose the establishment of ‘Asian Forum’ in 1998 which incubated the Boao Forum for Asia in 2001. As former Chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia he played an indispensable role in the development of the Forum.
The Chinese Embassy is deeply grieved by the loss of an old friend. He will be missed by all of us.”
Other members of the diplomatic community who sent their messages of sympathies via Twitter were:
Japanese Ambassador to Manila Koshikawa Kazuhiko said he was “saddened by the loss of good old friend.”
US Ambassador to Manila MaryKay Carlson: On behalf of the US Embassy community, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos and the people of the Philippines. We will always remember his contributions to the US-Philippines bilateral relationship.
European Union Delegation to the Philippines: “FVR was a dedicated statesman and a friend of the EU, under whose term the relations deepened. FVR was a pillar of democracy & icon of the Edsa revolution.”
The French Embassy noted that Ramos was an awardee of the French Legion of Honor, the Grand Cross.
Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Amanda Goreley called Ramos “a national treasure” and recalled that he was “Always very generous with his time, advice and cheeky sense of humour.”
Image credits: Caelistis Productions