Fidel Ramos, ex-Philippine leader who helped oust dictator, dies

Manila: Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, a US-trained ex-general who saw action in the Korean and Vietnam wars and played a key role in a 1986 pro-democracy uprising that ousted a dictator, has died. He was 94.

It was not immediately clear what caused his death but one of his longtime aides, Norman Legaspi, told The Associated Press that Ramos had been in and out of the hospital in recent years due to a heart condition and had suffered from dementia.

Fidel Ramos with Nelson Mandela in 1997.

Fidel Ramos with Nelson Mandela in 1997.Credit:AP

Some of Ramos’s relatives were with him when he died on Sunday at the Makati Medical Centre in metropolitan Manila, Legaspi said, adding the family would issue a statement on his death later Sunday.

“He was an icon. We lost a hero and I lost a father,” said Legaspi, a retired Philippine air force official, who served as a key staff to Ramos for about 15 years.

“He leaves behind a colorful legacy and a secure place in history for his participation in the great changes of our country, both as military officer and chief executive,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a statement.

The cigar-chomping Ramos, known for his visionary “win-win” outlook, attention to detail, a thumbs-up sign and firm handshake, served as president from 1992 to 1998, succeeding the democracy icon, Corazon Aquino. She was swept into the presidency in 1986 after an army-backed and largely peaceful “People Power” revolt toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was also a cousin of Ramos.

The uprising, which became a harbinger of change in authoritarian regimes worldwide, came after Ramos, the head of the Philippine Constabulary, and Defence Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile withdrew their support from Marcos following a failed coup.

Bill Clinton with Ramos during a visit to the Philippines in 1994.

Bill Clinton with Ramos during a visit to the Philippines in 1994.Credit:AP

Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin then summoned Filipinos to surround and shield the military and constabulary camps in the capital region where the defectors and their forces dug in, sparking crucial government defections that eventually drove Marcos, his family and cronies to U.S. exile.

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