Fidel V. Ramos : biography
Early life and education
Fidel Ramos was born on March 18, 1928 in Lingayen, Pangasinan. His father, Narciso Ramos (1900–1986), was a lawyer, journalist and 5-term legislator of the House of Representatives, who eventually rose to the position of Secretary of Foreign Affairs. As such, Narciso Ramos was the Philippine signatory to the ASEAN declaration forged in Bangkok in 1967 and was one of the founding fathers of the Liberal Party. His mother, Angela Valdez-Ramos (1905–1977), was an educator, woman suffragette and daughter of the respected Valdez clan of Batac, Ilocos Norte making him a second degree cousin to Ferdinand Marcos.
Ramos received secondary education at the Centro Escolar University in Manila. Afterwards he went to America and he graduated from the United States Military Academy, with Bachelor of Science and the University of Illinois, with a masters degree in civil engineering. He also holds a master’s degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines and a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Ateneo de Manila University.
Early Military career
Ramos went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he graduated in 1950. Ramos, along with the Philippines’ 20th Battalion Combat Team and his fellow West Point graduates of the 1950s, fought in the Korean War. Ramos was one of the heroes of the Battle of Hill Eerie, where he led his platoon to sabotage the enemy in Hill Eerie. He was also present in the Vietnam War as a non-combat civil military engineer and commanding officer of the Philippine Civil Action Group (PHILCAG). It is during this assignment where he forged his lifelong friendship with his junior officer Maj. Jose T. Almonte, who went on to become his National Security Advisor throughout during his administration from 1992 to 1998.
Ramos has received several military awards including the Philippine Legion of Honor, the Distinguished Conduct Star, Philippine Military Merit Medal, the United States Legion of Merit, the French Legion of Honor and the U.S. Military Academy Distinguished Graduate Award.
During his stint at the Philippine Army, Ramos founded the Philippine Army Special Forces. And then, he was named to the commander of the Army’s 3rd Division based in Cebu City, Cebu.
Headed the Philippine Constabulary or PC, then a major service of the AFP that acts as the country’s national police on 1972 when then President Ferdinand Marcos, his cousin, who was elected on 1965 imposed martial law to combat communism and to establish and preserve peace in the country, Ramos, Philippine Constabulary chief and one of the martial law enforcers, was responsible for the arrest of political personalities, communists, media and activists etc. However, as PC chief, Ramos initiated measures to ensure that the rights of the political detainees were protected and respected. He would also build the fighting capabilities of the PC. On 1975, all city and municipal police forces in the country were integrated by a decree issued by Marcos and it became known as the Integrated National Police or INP, thereby attaching it under the control and supervision of the PC, which Ramos headed. Thus, he was also the INP’s first concurrent director-general.
Nine years later, martial law would be lifted on 1981 but Marcos would still retain strong absolute powers in governing the Philippines.
Due to his accomplishments, Ramos became one of the candidates to become the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on 1981, to replace the retiring General Romeo Espino. However, Marcos instead opted and appointed his trusted military officer and former driver, General Fabian Ver, a UP graduate and not a West Pointer, into the top military post.
Instead, Ramos was named to be the vice-chief of staff of the AFP on 1982, thus becoming the military’s second most powerful official after Ver. As such, he was promoted into the rank of three-star general.