MANILA - Former President Fidel V. Ramos' was "selfless in service," his former interior and local government chief said Tuesday.
Ramos, who passed away on July 31 at the age of 94, will be given a state funeral with full military honors on Tuesday. Inurment will take place at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
His presidency from 1992 to 1998 was bookended by 2 crises: the power crisis he inherited from former president Corazon Aquino and the 1997 Asian financial crisis, according to former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III.
He was able to solve the former "within a year and a half," Alunan said, crediting Ramos' background in engineering. As for the financial crisis, Alunan said Ramos brought the people together towards their goal.
"He showed us a leader [with] not only his professionalism but he brought out the best in us. And the best in us was focused on providing selfless service. That's his greatest legacy to the people, he's selfless in service," he told ANC's Headstart.
Ramos also resisted calls for an extension of his term as president, Alunan said.
"I know for a fact he didn't want it," he said.
Citing the eulogy of Eddie Ermita, Alunan said Ramos had gathered his key commanders after the 1987 coup and told them they were "going to hold the line" and "ensure there will be a peaceful transition of power."
"'I think that's what kept him from succumbing to the lure...To me he was a real democrat and he respected the Constitution, he was a constitutionalist," Alunan said.
Ramos, known for getting up at 4 a.m. and reading news clippings at 5 a.m., made his Cabinet work together, according to former presidential adviser Amina Rasul Bernardo.
"For instance, when you talk about CSW, complete staff work, the mere fact we had to consult with each other to make sure whatever it was we proposed that the other agencies issues would be considered…It made us appreciate the vision of the President," she said.
"When you have a team that understands the vision of the leader and therefore that kind of attitude and spirit really does seep out of the team. It infected certain youth sectors I was caring for. Those young leaders are now established leaders in their own rights."
Ramos, although a military man, embraced his civilian role and consulted with all sectors, especially during government's peace negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front, Bernardo said.
"The way he governed and inspired us as his team, I think that sort of cemented the spirit of reform he wanted to instill in the nation," she said.
"People don't remember the physical infrastructure and who built them, people remember the human infrastructure and who helped shaped them."
RAMOS WITH MEDIA
Ramos also treated the media as "chroniclers of history" and never banned a journalist for criticizing his administration, according to Mariel Catbagan, a former Malacanang reporter.
"He’s a very keen student of history. He sees the media as a chronicler and critic of history and the narrative we wrote then and being read now is history," she said.
"He treated us well, he didn't pamper us, he treated us as almost equals so we felt the importance also of our role to tell people what was happening and why things are happening."
When the former president was not happy with a story, he would invite a reporter for an "intimate lunch and we will discuss issues without laying blame on anyone," she said.
"Or during his press conference, he would have them every Wednesday, he would flash a clipping with his marginal notes but he will fold the masthead so as not to embarrass the reporter who wrote it and address issues as such," she said.
"He would rather engage with you and explain his point of view than berate you in public. That's not his way."
Ramos also continued to invite the press to his birthday celebrations even after his presidency, Catbagan said.
"Last time I saw him was in 2019 for the recording of the FVR oral history. That continued his keen sense of history. And making us part of it, even in the wake the family recognized the role of media," she said.