Former Philippine president Fidel ‘Steady Eddie’ Ramos dies

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Former Philippine president Fidel Ramos, who oversaw a rare period of steady growth and peace that won him the reputation as one of the country’s most effective leaders ever, has died aged 94, his family said Sunday. 

Known as “Steady Eddie” for his unflappable demeanour during the country’s regular moments of upheaval, he was frequently pictured chewing unlit cigars as he guided the Philippines with a sure hand from 1992-1998.

He was also the first Protestant to win the top office in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation, despite opposition from some in the Church. He later made an aggressive push for family planning to rein in rapid population growth.

In a brief statement, the Ramos family said it was “profoundly saddened” to announce the patriarch’s death. The cause was not released. 

“I extend my deepest condolences to the family of former President Fidel Valdez Ramos who passed away today having lived a full life as a military officer and public servant,” said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, who took office last month. 

The European Union delegation in the Philippines expressed its condolences, describing Ramos as a “dedicated statesman” and “pillar of democracy”.

He was later commander of the paramilitary Philippine Constabulary — the key institution that enforced the brutal repression of dissent after Marcos declared martial law in 1972.

Sensing Marcos’s weakness, a group of young military officers and their leader, defence secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, plotted to seize power but were found out.

Ramos joined their rebellion, withdrawing his support from Marcos and inspiring many others to rise up as well.

– ‘My atonement was revolt’ –

When elections came in 1992, Aquino gave her endorsement to Ramos, which was crucial to him winning the presidency despite the opposition of influential Catholic Church figures.

He also made peace overtures to communist guerrillas, Muslim separatists and military coup-plotters.

Ramos was also a key, early supporter of Rodrigo Duterte as he waded into national politics with his run at the presidency in 2016. Post-election, Ramos served as the special envoy to Beijing to ease tensions over the disputed South China Sea.

Ramos was also aghast at Duterte’s decision to allow Marcos to be buried in the national Heroes’ Cemetery despite the damage his dictatorship caused to the Philippines’ economy and social order.

“My atonement was leading the military and the police” in the revolt that toppled Marcos, he said.

Originally published as Former Philippine president Fidel ‘Steady Eddie’ Ramos dies


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