THERE are much more iconic descriptions of FVR, the 12th president. From the Philippines 2000 to the tiger economy, among others. Those visuals can be grouped into history (EDSA jump), progress (Kaya natin to! and the thumbs up) and cheerleader (Steady Eddie), but there are three visuals that those in the bureaucracy will hold dear: Tabako, CSW and those red scribbles on margins that one gets early in the morning. He was EDsa92, owning up and claiming EDSA I.
Clearly he brought his military background to the office and was known for technocracy and was a liberal democrat. After all, he was a graduate of the US Military Academy in West Point in 1950 and attended the University of Illinois for his MS in Civil Engineering in 1951. Those years in the United States raised him to what he became as chief of the Integrated National Police and later chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. His was an experience that was shaped by the Korean and Vietnam wars.
He was one of the three remaining actors of EDSA 1, with the death of the democracy icon, President Cory C. Aquino, the 11th president. If PCCA brought political democracy alive post-EDSA, FVR ushered in economic growth temporarily halted by the Asian crisis. There are now two remaining actors of EDSA 1, the former first lady, Imelda R. Marcos (93), and the former Defense secretary, Juan Ponce Enrile (98).
Tabako was the name given by friends and critics. The cigar was supposedly a promotion of the brand of tobacco we produced and the joke that went around was that the cigar was from a non-communist country. But the chomping of the cigar actually sent signals to people he was meeting. If the cigar was chomped from left to right, the 12th president was not in a good mood and was agitated. He would sometimes play with the cigar so he could fake irritation and get the person in front of him agree to what he wants. He also loved putting contrarian parties in a room for long hours to get an agreement. There was even an instance where he would just leave water (no food) so people would agree with each other and get the president back for their consensus. He was a believer of game theory and applied it in governance.
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FVR was the first military and first Protestant to become president in the Republic. The daring somersault from the LDP convention saw how his military team designed the campaign, coming from nowhere but highlighting his role in EDSA 1. He won by only 23 percent in 1992, but he established a peaceful, stable country with a good trajectory of economic growth. He propagated privatization and liberalization, taking away government from areas the private sector can ably handle. And this era started the privatization of utilities and liberalization of some government corporations and industries. He likewise broke the monopolies in telcos and transportation by invoking the phrase, "leveling the playing field." Used special powers granted by Congress to solve the energy crisis. He introduced the social reform agenda and tried to reduce poverty from 39 percent to 31 percent.
Ramos fought various "enemies of the state" from right wing to leftists and Muslim rebels but he signed a peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996 and succeeded in reducing the communists from a high of 25,000 in 1986 to 5,400 by the end of his term.
Flor Contemplacion was an incident that moved the Ramos administration at its lowest flow and the people's initiative to revise/amend the Constitution led to a split at the end. The latter would be the learning tip for any president going to the end of his term. Any amendment to the Constitution has to be done early on or it would lead to a meltdown of the gains.
Upon his retirement, he set up his RPDev, or the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation Inc. and became a prolific writer. He has churned out so many volumes, leaving important learnings and lessons for future generations. By 2016, the count was 12th and this could have reached more than 20 volumes.
Tabako was God, country and family, and so much backstory is there on things he needed to decide for the sake of country. And when country calls, FVR is a staunch nationalist. As his national security adviser would know very well. JoAl was the ideologue of the Ramos administration. He was there when economic and political structures were considered in relation to smuggling and corruption where overlords defined the economic centers of power which are often dragged to the political realm. He was also there to manage the persona and reputation of FVR.
As his wife noted, "Eddie remained first and foremost a military man and second, a family man. He ran a household as he would run a battalion. He set up a strict time CHED used for everyone: the time to sleep, wake up, eat. Not that it lasted. To put it quite simply, it was the kind of routine that invited mass rebellion. With five daughters, all in one way or the other revealing their father in temperament, Eddie Ramos' attempt to militarize the Ramos family was a dismal failure. I think it was the only endeavor in which he failed, miserably I might add. This shows you the power that women have."
If that was the wife saying in clear and certain terms how FVR operates, imagine the CSW drill and receiving the red marginal notes ... clear as day, the workaholic of a leader will get you honed on the ABCs of public administration and what working hard is like taking care of country. Rest in peace!