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, according to officials.
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 led the Philippines between 1992 and 1998.
A career military man, he was the first Protestant to win the top office in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation, despite opposition from some in the Church.
But like other top officials of his generation, Ramos played a role in the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr, which saw thousands killed and thousands arbitrarily imprisoned.
“It is with great sorrow that we learn of the passing of former President Fidel V Ramos,” said Trixie Cruz-Angeles, press secretary for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, who took office last month.
“He leaves behind a colourful legacy and a secure place in history for his participation in the great changes of our country, both as military officer and chief executive.”
Ramos’s family is expected to release a statement later on Sunday. The cause of death has not been released.
Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos reacts as he speaks to journalists in 2016 [File: Reuters]
Ramos emerged from the high-ranking security role during the dictatorship of Marcos Sr to win the vote for the nation’s highest office.
Ramos became a hero to many for defecting from Marcos’s government, in which he led the national police force, spurring the dictator’s downfall during the 1986 popular uprising against his rule.
Others, though, would not forgive or forget his role in enforcing martial law under the Marcos regime.