Fidel Valdez Ramos (born March 18, 1928) was the 12th President of the Philippines. He succeeded Corazon Aquino and governed until 1998, when he was succeeded by Joseph Estrada. He was the first, and to date the only, non-Roman Catholic president of the Philippines.
During the authoritarian regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, Ramos was head of the Philippine Constabulary, implementing Marcos' declaration of martial law. In the 1986 People Power Revolution, Ramos defected from the government and was a key figure in the civilian demonstrations that forced Marcos into exile.
The first half of Ramos' six-year term as President was characterized by rapid economic growth and political stability in the country despite facing communist insurgencies, an Islamic separatist movement in Mindanao, and the onslaught of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
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.
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.
Ramos served the Marcos regime for more than 20 years — in the military, as head of the Philippine Constabulary, the country's national police force, and as a trusted advisor. He was a member of the infamous Rolex 12, a group of conspirators loyal to Marcos himself.
Ramos, together with Juan Ponce Enrile, the secretary of Defense, changed allegiance and sided with Aquino when the People Power Revolution erupted in 1986 and became the living symbol of military defiance against Marcos. The military followed his lead and swung the pendulum in her favor.
After Aquino assumed the Presidency, she appointed Ramos Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and later Secretary of National Defense, foiling seven coup attempts against the Aquino administration.
He won the seven-way race on May 11, 1992, narrowly defeating populist 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, though cheating on a large scale has not been proven. However, his running mate, Governor Osmeña, lost to Senator Joseph Estrada as Vice President.
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 is also the first Protestant president of the country. 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. During his time, he advocated party platforms as outline and agenda for governance. As in his case, he was the first Christian Democrat to be elected in the country, being the founder of Lakas-CMD (Christian Democratic Party). He was the one of the most influential leaders and the unofficial spokesman of liberal democracy in Asia.
Unfortunately, Ramos issued supply contracts that guaranteed the government would buy whatever power the IPPs produced under the contract in U.S. dollars to entice investments in power plants. This became a problem during the East Asian Financial Crisis when the demand for electricity contracted and the Philippine Peso lost half of its value. This caused the Philippine price of electricity to become the second-highest in Asia, after Japan.
The country was considered risky by investors due to previous coup attempts by military adventurists led by Gregorio Honasan, and experienced brownouts at an almost daily basis lasting 4-12 hours before he issued IPP licences. The low supply of power and perceived instability held back investments and modernization in the country. In addition, the Philippines was a pioneer in the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme where private investors are invited to build certain government projects (i.e. tollways, powerplants, railways, etc.), make money by charging users, and transfer operation to the government after a set amount of time. As there was no literature or previous experience to such a scheme, most early contracts put a large and undue amount of risk on the government in cases of unfavorable changes in the business environment. Even given this context, Ramos' real intention behind the IPP contracts appears murkier than what he or his publicists want the people to believe. A 2002 investigative report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) showed that Ramos personally saw to it that a number of the costliest power deals be quickly approved, and even provided justifications to effect the signing of additional power contracts despite having been warned by the World Bank and from within the Philippine government that an impending electricity oversupply could jack up prices.
President Ramos also facilitated the enactment of Republic Act 8042, better known as the Magna Carta for Overseas Workers or the Migrant Workers Act. The Migrant Workers Act was signed into law on June 7, 1995. Learning from the lessons of Contemplación case, Ramos immediately ordered UAE Ambassador Roy Señeres to facilitate negotiations after learning the death penalty verdict of Sarah Balabagan on September 1995. Balabagan's sentence was lowered and she was released August 1996. After tensions cooled off, Ramos restored diplomatic relations with Singapore after meeting Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong during the sidelines of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in New York City.
During his final years in office, Ramos tried to amend the country's 1987 constitution; a process popularly known to many Filipinos as Charter Change or "Cha-Cha." Widespread protests led by his predecessor, President Aquino, and the Catholic Church seemed to have stopped him from pushing through with the plan. Political analysts were divided as to whether Ramos really wanted to use Cha-Cha to extend his presidency or merely to imbalance his opponents and prevent his becoming a lame duck leader, as the next presidential election neared. However, if the Centennial Expo scam testimony made by Joseph Ocol, former Clark Development Corporation head executive assistant, were to be believed, it would seem that Ramos at least wanted to influence who the country's next president would be. Ocol testified before a Senate blue ribbon committee that people in the former Clark Air Base during the Centennial Expo preparations desperately tried to produce all ways and money to prevent Estrada from winning in the coming May 1998 elections. It was no secret that Ramos hated the idea that then Vice-President Estrada could succeed him as the next Chief Executive.
While campaigning for the presidency, Fidel Ramos declared his support for reinstating the death penalty. Capital punishment was abolished for all crimes in 1987, making the Philippines the first Asian country to do so. In 1996 Ramos signed a bill that returned capital punishment with the electric chair (method used from 1923 to 1976, making Philippines the only country to do so outside U.S.) "until the gas chamber could be installed. However, no one was electrocuted nor gassed, because the previously-used chair was destroyed earlier and the Philippines adopted the lethal injection. Some people were put to death by this means, until the death penalty was reabolished again in 2006.
After his presidency, Ramos remained one of the many influential political leaders in the Philippines, amidst rumors of his alleged involvement in coup attempts and his alleged desire to perpetuate himself in power. He served as the Carlyle Group Asia Advisor Board Member until the board was disbanded in February 2004.
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. Dubbed by advocates as a four-day peaceful revolt, EDSA 2 was reported by the international media--such as the International Herald Tribune and New York Times--as an undemocratic coup made possible by the encouragement of Ramos and Cory Aquino, along with the opportunist coalition of business elites, Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin and leftist groups. Estrada also later accused Ramos of conspiring to oust him after the former set up a fact-finding body tasked to investigate Ramos' role in the Centennial Expo scandal. Arroyo repaid Ramos by appointing him as the Philippines Goodwill Ambassador to the World Economic Forum.
He is currently the Chairman Emeritus of the Lakas CMD (Christian-Muslim Democrats) Party, formerly known as Lakas NUCD-UMDP or the Partido Lakas Tao-National Union of Christian Democrats-Union of Muslim Democrats of the Philippines.
Expressing his belief in continued economic progress, governance and stability, Ramos successfully convinced President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo not to resign from office at the height of the election-rigging scandal in July 2005. Ramos repeatedly stated that the scandal is nowhere as grave as that of People Power Revolutions of 1986 and 2001, citing factors such as the stagnant Philippine economy in the final years of the Marcos regime as well as the allegedly massive corruption of the Estrada administration. He did, however, push Arroyo into explaining her vocal involvement in the wiretapped conversation with an election official.
Ramos also unveiled his proposals for constitutional change of the country. Citing the need to be more economically competitive, globalization and the need to improve governance for all Filipinos, Ramos suggested that government should start the process of charter change with a set deadline in 2007 (by which time the new charter and new government will take effect). Ramos supports the transformation of the country's political system from the Philippine presidential-bicameral-system into a unicameral parliament in transition to a federal form.
Recently, Fidel V. Ramos had separate meetings with politicians. The first was held at his Makati City office with the presence of Senate President Franklin Drilon and former Senator Tito Sotto. Afterwards, another private meeting followed, this time with President Arroyo.
In relation to the meetings, Ramos rejected invitations from the political opposition and stressed that his support is with the administration. He admitted however that Arroyo and her team has been sluggish in implementing the much-needed reforms which he suggested (including the need for Arroyo to step down from power in 2007). Political adviser Gabriel Claudio confirmed the Ramos-Arroyo meeting and said that a compromise over reforms has been reached.
At a high-profile summit of the Lakas-CMD held January 15, 2006, delegates of the party rejected his proposals and favored Arroyo's initiative.
He is currently representing the Philippines in the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group, task to draft the Charter of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). He was also a member of numerous international groups and fora, and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Boao Forum for Asia (also one of the co-founders of BFA) and Co-Chairman of the Global Meeting of the Emerging Markets Forum (EMF). Ramos was heavily recommended for the position of the United Nations envoy to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) in June 2006. He is a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to promote good governance around the world.
He founded the Ramos Foundation for Peace and Development (RPDEV) with offices located in the Urban Bank Building (now ExportBank Plaza).
In May 2007, Ramos and Corazon Aquino joined nearly 60 former world leaders including former United States Presidents Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Tatcher, asking the Myanmar's military government for the release of detained Myanmar opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
On August 18, 2007, 24th anniversary of the death of Benigno Aquino, Jr. Ramos received a Benigno S. Aquino Jr. (BSA) Award for Nationalism from the Federation of Catholic Schools’ Alumni/Alumnae Associations during the Good Citizenship Congress at the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (UPNCPAG) in Quezon City. Ramos was among the 6 recipients which include former Senators Rene V. Saguisag and Wigberto Tanada, Raul Concepcion, Henrietta de Villa, and Lourdes Quezon.
Like many presidents in the Philippines, Ramos was also accused of corruption. The PEA-AMARI Manila Bay reclamation deal, the conversion of the military base in Fort Bonifacio for private development, the Centennial Expo project and the Benpres-North Luzon Expressway have been tainted with alleged corruption. An inquiry by the Senate later produced testimonies showing how P1.7 billion in bribe money sealed the Amari deal with the Public Estates Authority and Malacañang under Ramos. Accusations were not proven to the level of Ramos but the Supreme Court ultimately voided the PEA-AMARI sale for being unconstitutional, and in early August 2008, the Sandiganbayan suspended four government auditors and five PEA officials for their role in the anomalous deal. In February 1999, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee of the 11th Congress recommended the prosecution of ex-President Ramos and eight others for “technical malversation or misapplication of public funds” in connection with Centennial Expo scam. Ramos was eventually cleared by Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, a Ramos appointee who refused to inhibit himself from hearing the high-profile case.
Leftist groups have also criticised Ramos' economic reforms such as privatization, deregulation and trade liberalization, claiming that the economic growth posted during his presidency was "artificial." They blamed him for the slowdown of the Philippine economy during the 1997 East Asian financial crisis. The sale of Petron to Aramco is specifically criticized for resulting to the lost of the government's effective leverage on domestic oil prices. Along with the deregulation of the entire oil industry, Petron's privatization is blamed for the continuing surge in oil prices that has particularly proved to be deleterious to the masses amidst the obtaining high petroleum costs in the global market.
A longstanding criticism of Ramos was whether his role in the Estrada ouster was motivated by his fear of being prosecuted in connection with the Centenial Expo and other scams. When Estrada was given executive clemency after having been found guilty of plunder by the special Sandiganbayan court in September 2007, Ramos heavily criticized Arroyo's decision. Estrada's son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, retaliated by asking Ramos to first "come clean" on the alleged multi-billion-peso anomalies involved in the PEA-AMARI, IPP and other deals negotiated during his term.
Philippine President Fidel Ramos has inaugurated a $25 million satellite telephone station designed to serve thousands of consumers on the main Philippine island of Luzon.
Jun 28, 1993; * Philippine President Fidel Ramos has inaugurated a $25 million satellite telephone station designed to serve thousands of...