6 years after Ramos backed Duterte, his ex-officials back Robredo
MANILA, Philippines – Six years ago, former Philippine leader Fidel V. Ramos supported Rodrigo Duterte as president. Now, its former officials are doing the opposite.
Former cabinet members and Ramos officials released a statement on Thursday, January 13, supporting the presidential candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo, the opposition leader seen as the antithesis of Ramos’ choice in 2016.
In their statement of support, the 23 signatories said Robredo shares the same leadership qualities as Ramos, who ruled the Philippines from 1992 to 1998.
Three of the signatories confirmed the statement to Rappler: former presidential aide Benjamin de Leon, former undersecretary of finance Milwida Guevara and senatorial minority leader Frank Drilon, who was justice secretary under Ramos and is now vice-president of the Liberal Party of Robredo. Robredo spokesman Barry Gutierrez also verified the statement.
Ramos officials first presented the statement to Robredo herself in a virtual meeting on Monday, January 10. It was mainly written by the former secretary for socio-economic planning Cielito Habito.
“We see the 2022 national elections as a critical crossroads for the country, especially as they emerge from the deep scars inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and society. The country must elect a leader who will lead us on a positive path towards a unified, humane, just, progressive, economically dynamic, sustainable and equitable society which is the dream of every Filipino, ”Ramos officials said.
“We believe that Vice President Leni Robredo is the only presidential candidate who possesses the qualities described above and who can credibly bring us Filipinos closer to this dream,” they added.
Ramos officials then urged Filipinos to also support Robredo’s presidential candidacy, pledging their “wholehearted commitment” to help campaign for her.
In February 2016, Ramos approved the candidacy for the vice-presidency of Robredo, then representative of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur.
But a month later, the former president was also pictured raising hands with Duterte and his running mate Alan Peter Cayetano in what some viewed as his apparent endorsement of the Duterte-Cayetano tandem.
A vote for Robredo is often seen as a vote against Duterte, which plunged the Philippines into the worst economic, political and human rights crisis in decades. Robredo, a human rights lawyer known for her steadfast but compassionate leadership, is seen as the opposite of Duterte.
Even Ramos was ultimately “disillusioned” by Duterte, De Leon said.
Before that, Ramos was among those who convinced Duterte to run for president. In his inaugural speech, Duterte even addressed Ramos directly: “President Fidel Ramos, Sir, salamat po sa tulong mo (thanks for your help) making me the president.
“For me, FVR thought he was fine at first,” De Leon told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino. “For the first time, we will have a president from Mindanao. But in the first 100 days, he observed that he wandered off. He warned him. He became disillusioned during the remainder of Duterte’s tenure.
Milwida Guevara, who was undersecretary of finance under Ramos, also believes her former boss may have regretted his initial support for Duterte. “It was very early. Many of us disagreed with his approval of Duterte. He may have regretted it later, ”she told Rappler in a text message.
During the early months of the Duterte presidency, Ramos often gave the president unsolicited advice. Duterte had said Ramos was one of his sources for his list of figures allegedly linked to illegal drug trafficking, but Ramos denied. In July 2016, Ramos even accepted the president’s offer to be his envoy to China.
Ramos, however, had said the Philippines was “already losing badly” in Duterte’s first 100 days. In 2017, he later said there was an emerging culture of impunity in the country due to the spate of killings linked to Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. Duterte is now under investigation for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court because of the murders.
Ramos, 93, who has had to fight several illnesses in the past, has not been active in public life since then.
A military man before entering politics, Ramos had earned praise for the economic boom and political stability during the first three years of his tenure. But his presidency was also marred by controversies, such as the corruption scandal that hampers the construction of the Clark Centennial Expo, and affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1997, which saw the Philippine economy collapse at the end of the year. Ramos’ mandate.
A second cousin of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Ramos led the Marcos-era Philippine police from 1972 to 1986, implementing martial law and arresting critics of the dictator. Ramos eventually defected and sparked the series of events that led to the EDSA People’s Power Revolution that toppled Marcos in 1986.
The 23 Ramos officials supporting Robredo are:
- Angel Alcala, former secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
- Tomas Africa, former administrator of the National Statistical Office
- Dante Canlas, former Deputy Director General of the National Authority for Economy and Development (NEDA)
- Maman Nieves Confesor, former secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
- Vicente Carlos, former secretary of the Ministry of Tourism (DOT)
- Benjamin de Leon, former presidential assistant in the Office of the President
- Frank Drilon, former secretary of the Department of Justice
- José Brillantes, former secretary of DOLE
- Ramon del Rosario Jr., former secretary of the Ministry of Finance (DOF)
- Ernesto Garilao, former secretary of the Land Reform Department
- Jaime Galvez Tan, former secretary of the Ministry of Health (DOH)
- Milwida Guevera, former Deputy Secretary of the DOF
- Cielito Habito, former director general of NEDA
- Lina Laigo, former secretary of the Department of Social Protection and Development
- Delfin Lazaro, former secretary of the Ministry of Energy
- Ester Garcia, former president of the Higher Education Commission
- Patricia Licuanan, former chairperson of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women
- Narzalina Lim, former DOT secretary
- Ben Malayang III, former undersecretary of the DENR
- Edmundo Mir, former secretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Roads
- Victor Ramos, former secretary of the DENR
- Carmencita Reodica, former DOH secretary
- Roberto Romulo, former secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Robredo “honored, humiliated” by his support
In a series of tweets, Robredo said she was “humbled” by their support. She said she admired Ramos, who had “one of the best pools of cabinet secretaries” in recent years.
“I admire the leadership adopted by FVR, which I believe was affirmed by the brilliant people who served alongside it – matitino to mahuhusay (good and competent) ” she said.
“Honored by the faith you have placed in me, Gentlemen and Ladies. Makakaasa po kayo na lagi kong sisikapin (You can be sure that I will always try) to be worthy of the trust that you and our fellow Filipinos have placed in me ”, Robredo added.
According to De Leon, other Ramos officials back Robredo, but they were unable to sign the statement due to the non-partisan policies of their current offices.
Still, De Leon said Robredo was “very happy” to get the support of their group, whose “doors are open” for any political consultation with the opposition presidential bet.
“The statement of support has been read for her information and [she] was very happy and expressed her appreciation. I might add that there are others who have expressed their full support [for Robredo] but cannot sign the declaration due to their offices’ policy of being non-partisan, ”De Leon said.
Robredo improved his voter preference rating in the December 2021 Pulse Asia poll, from his rating of 6% to 8% in mid-2021. But it is far behind its rival, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator, who edged all other presidential bets with 53%.
This is not the first time, however, that several officials under Ramos have met a 2022 presidential bet.
In November 2021, some officials who served under Ramos and former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo met with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to discuss his agricultural and economic platform.
But no statement of support for Moreno was released after this meeting. – Rappler.com