The University of the Philippines (UP) mourns the death of former President Fidel Valdez Ramos, who passed away on July 31, 2022, at 94.
Fidel Ramos was born on March 18,1928, in Lingayen, Pangasinan. He finished his elementary education at a Lingayen public school; from 1940 to 1941 studied at the UP High School in Manila, which, together with the UP Preparatory School and the UP Elementary School, eventually became the UP Integrated School in Diliman today. Ramos continued his secondary education at the High School Department of Mapúa Institute of Technology, and in 1945, he graduated from high school at the Centro Escolar University Integrated School.
Afterward, Ramos went to the United States after receiving an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Military Engineering in 1950. Ramos also earned a Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Illinois, USA, in 1951, and later placed 8th overall in the Civil Engineering Board Exam of 1953. He also earned a Master of National Security Administration degree from the National Defense College of the Philippines and a Master of Business Administration from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1980.
From 1951 to 1952, Ramos was a member of the Philippines’ 20th Battalion Combat Team of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) that fought in the Korean War, where he served as an Infantry Reconnaissance Platoon Leader. He was also in the Vietnam War as a non-combat civil military engineer and Chief of Staff of the Philippine Civil Action Group (PHILCAG) from 1966 to 1968. In 1972, he served as Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, then a major service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), when President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. In 1975, all civic and municipal police forces in the country were integrated, becoming the Integrated National Police under the control and supervision of the Philippine Constabulary, with Ramos as its first ex-officio concurrent Director-General.
In 1981, Ramos was named AFP Vice-Chief of Staff and promoted to the rank of a three-star general. In 1983, after General Fabian Ver was implicated in the assassination of former opposition Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., Ramos became acting AFP Chief of Staff until Ver’s reinstatement in 1985. In February 1986, allegations of fraud committed during snap elections triggered the non-violent People Power Revolution. Ramos defected and followed then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile into Camp Crame and shifted his allegiance to Corazon Aquino, Senator Aquino’s widow. The latter later became the country’s first female President. President Aquino then appointed Ramos as Chief of Staff of the AFP, and in 1988 as Secretary of National Defense and Chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council. In 1992, Ramos was elected President of the Philippines, narrowly beating Agrarian Reform Secretary Miriam Defensor Santiago.
As President of the Philippines (1992-1998), Fidel V. Ramos’s leadership brought in a period of political stability and rapid economic growth and expansion. His policies and programs aimed to foster national reconciliation and unity and paved the way for major peace agreements with Muslim separatists, communists, and military rebels. These developments resulted in renewed investor confidence in the Philippine economy. Ramos also pushed for the deregulation of key industries and the liberalization of the economy by encouraging the privatization of public entities, including the monetization of public infrastructure through the expanded Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) law.
During 1993-1997, the Philippine economy underwent a dramatic recovery. Gross National Product averaged 5 percent annually, and the total inflow of foreign exchange into the country outpaced the combined periods of the rule of both Pres. Marcos and Pres. Aquino. The average income of the Filipino family also grew higher during Ramos’s administration than in the preceding two decades. Consequently, Ramos implemented a comprehensive Social Reform Agenda (SRA) that addressed long-standing problems—poverty, health, education and skills training, housing, environmental protection, agrarian reform, jobs and livelihood, access to equal opportunity, and the welfare of children and the youth, the elderly and the disabled.
In 1997, Ramos and Moro National Liberation Front Chair Nur Misuari was awarded the coveted 1997 UNESCO Peace Prize for forging the peace agreement between military rebels and the MNLF southern secessionists. The award marks a first for both the Philippines and for Asians.
Ramos continued to find ways to help his country even after his presidency. He founded the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation, a non-partisan and nonprofit organization promoting peace and development in the Philippines and the larger Asia-Pacific region. Then in 1998, Ramos founded the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) together with Bob Hawke and Morihiro Hosokawa, former Prime Ministers of Australia and Japan, respectively. The BFA is a premier forum for government, business, and academia leaders in Asia and other continents who are committed to promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries closer to their development goals.
In 2004, Ramos was a Founding Member of the Global Leadership Foundation. He was also a member of and was associated with the following:
- Founding Member of the Policy Advisory Commission, World Intellectual Property Organization (PAC-WIPO)
- Advisory Group Member of the UN University for Peace
- Trustee of the International Crisis Group (ICG)
- Honorary Director of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation
Ramos received several military awards, including the Philippine Legion of Honor in 1988 and 1991; the Distinguished Conduct Star in 1991; the Distinguished Service Star in 1966, 1967, and 1981; the Philippine Military Merit Medal in 1952; and the U.S. Military Academy Distinguished Graduate Award and Legion of Merit in 1990. He was one of the Filipinos awarded the French Legion of Honor Grand Croix, a prestigious order created by Napoleon Bonaparte to honor anyone, regardless of religion or nationality, who upholds liberty and equality. The order is the oldest and highest-ranking medal of honor in France.
He also received numerous international awards, including the 1997 Aristides Calvani Award; the Rizal Pro Patria from the Order of the Knights of Rizal; and the Rotary International Award of Honor.
Ramos received 28 honorary doctorate degrees in his lifetime, including a Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, from the University of the Philippines, presented by then UP President, Dr. Jose V. Abueva.
UP and its academic community offers their condolences to both the families and close friends of Fidel Valdez Ramos. His achievements during his presidency have left a meaningful long-term impact on the Philippines. This country and its compatriots are grateful for its contributions to the progressive growth of the Philippines.