The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) joined the Filipino people in mourning the passing of former President Fidel V. Ramos on Sunday, July 31. He was 94.
In a statement, DND Officer in Charge Jose Faustino Jr. hailed Ramos for pushing for the modernization and professionalization of the AFP when he served as the 18th Secretary of National Defense from January 22, 1988 to July 18, 1991.
“He underscored the importance of building a strong military organization and promoting collaboration with different stakeholders to uphold the nation’s internal stability and security. His storied career in the military and in the public service earned him the admiration of Filipinos across political divides,” Faustino said.
“The Department extends its sympathies to the family and friends of President Ramos during this difficult time. May God grant him eternal rest,” he added.
Meanwhile, Col. Medel Aguilar, acting AFP spokesperson, said the organization was prepared to render traditional military funeral services as a final salute to the departed former Commander-in-Chief. Flags in all military installations shall also be raised at half mast in solidarity to the grieving nation, he added.
“Our countrymen will always remember FVR’s positive outlook and peace advocacy. It was during his Presidency when the final peace accord was signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),” Aguilar stated.
The Philippine Army (PA) also grieved Ramos’ passing as he was described as a “great leader and an illustrious soldier who truly embodied the Army’s core values of honor, duty, and patriotism.”
“President Ramos, affectionately called FVR, sought the modernization of the military through the enactment of the 15-year AFP Modernization Act. President Ramos also recognized that problems of national security and stability cannot be resolved by military action alone. To this end, he mandated the active integration and coordination of development and peace-oriented initiatives through the revitalization of the National Security Council,” said Col. Xerxes Trinidad, Army spokesperson.
“As we honor his life and legacy, the 110,000-strong Philippine Army offers our snappiest salute to former President and Commander-in-Chief Ramos,” he remarked.
In its website, the DND said that Ramos assumed his post as Defense chief “with the reputation for professionalism and teamwork he had earned as a constitutional soldier.”
Prior to this, Ramos also became the Chief of Staff of the AFP from 1986 to 1988 under the term of President Corazon Aquino.
“As a soldier who preferred fatigues to dress uniform, Secretary Ramos helped the Aquino government restore democratic institutions, several times leading the Armed Forces of the Philippines in protecting the country from extreme rightist groups. The centrist stance he set for the Armed Forces while he was Chief of Staff had been tested many times and its validity demonstrated when August 28, 1987 coup attempt was crushed under his personal direction,” the DND wrote.
His military record was described by the DND as “a step-by-step rise through the command-and-staff ladder.”
It began with his early field assignments, fighting the Hukbalahap in Southern Luzon as a platoon leader of the 2nd Battalion Combat Team (BCT) in 1951 and as an infantry Company Commander of the 16th BCT.
He also served as Reconnaissance Platoon Leader of the 20th BCT of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) in 1952.
He commanded the Advance Party of the Philippines Civic Action Group to Vietnam (PHILCAG) in August 1966, later on becoming the unit’s Chief the Staff. Various staff officer positions followed before he was designated Presidential Assistant on Military Affairs in 1968, Chief of Staff in 1981.
“His main concerns as Secretary of National Defense were: the upgrading of the Armed Forces of the Philippines through a more self-reliant defense posture and the development of the reserve Force; and the enhancement of civilian-military-police teamwork under the umbrella of the Peace and Order Council System,” the DND said in its website.
“He strongly espoused the “total approach” strategy of counter insurgency and vigorously pursued legislative programs and budgetary support necessary to promote internal security and stability,” it added.
Ramos then replaced Aquino as the 12th president of the republic from 1992 to 1998.