Manila, Aug 9 (EFE).- The Philippines on Tuesday gave a hero’s farewell to former president Fidel Ramos, a key figure in the return to democracy and the fall of the dictatorship in 1986.
Ramos was interred at the National Heroes Cemetery in Manila in a state funeral after dying at the age of 94 on July 31.
A military helicopter dropped rose petals on the cemetery and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. attended the service, standing next to Ramos’ widow Amelita “Ming” Ramos during the funeral rites.
The former first lady was thankful for the support received in recent days and praised Ramos’ ability to combine his life as a soldier and a politician while he took care of his family.
“You know, life in the military was not easy, but we survived. President Ramos helped and he was able to handle it. He was able to raise five daughters, eight grandsons and five granddaughters,” she said.
Ramos held the presidency of the country between 1992 and 1998, a time when the archipelago opened to foreign investment, and he ended the communication and energy cartels by liberalizing the sectors. Under his watch the Philippines also became considered one of the ‘Asian tigers’ for its strong economic growth until the crisis of 1997.
Born in 1928 in the northern province of Pangasinan, he graduated as a soldier from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1950 and joined the Philippine armed forces upon his return to the country, where he rose through the ranks until dictator Ferdinand Marcos appointed him head of the national police in 1972.
Despite his role in enforcing martial law (1972-1981), during which more than 3,000 people disappeared in summary executions and the press was brutally silenced, his popularity grew during the peaceful popular uprising in the streets of Manila in 1986.
His defection from the Marcos camp to support the popular protests in the midst of the crisis was one of the keys to the fall and exile of the dictator, who died in Hawaii in 1989.
Ramos is almost unanimously recognized as a conciliatory president, under whose mandate the Philippine government signed a peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in Mindanao after years of war against the State, while the Philippine economy took off after a process of liberalization.
In 2016, despite his advanced age, Ramos accepted the appointment of special envoy to China on behalf of the Philippine government at a delicate moment in bilateral relations due to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, at the request of former president Rodrigo Duterte.
However, Ramos ended up criticizing Duterte’s authoritarian turn and quit the position just a few months later, after having supported him in the presidential race. EFE