August 17, 2022

PEACE-MAKER

Jose de Venecia Jr.
Former Speaker of the House

In our column dated March, 20, 2022, we paid tribute to former President Fidel V. Ramos who celebrated his 94th birthday on March 18.

Last Sunday, July 31, FVR, as he was popularly known, who served as the 12th President of the Philippines, passed away at the age of 94.

As our humble way of honoring the life and legacy of a great Filipino leader, peacemaker, democrat, and Asian statesman, we wish to reprint part of our earlier column about him.

“A hero of the EDSA People Power Revolution and veteran of the Vietnam and Korean wars, FVR served our country with great distinction, as a military officer who eventually became chief of staff of the Armed Forces, Secretary of National Defense, and President of the Philippines.

As president, he is best remembered for his peace initiatives, socio-political reforms, economic modernization, people empowerment, and global competitiveness, among many other accomplishments.

Even after his presidency, he continued to serve our country, our Asian region, and the international community in his private capacity, contributing his wisdom, wealth of experience, and political influence in advancing the causes of peace, security, democracy, and development.

He and this columnist, together with the late Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul Manglapus, father of Christian Democracy in Asia, founded the Lakas-NUCD-UMDP (National Union of Christian Democrats-United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines), now Lakas-CMD (Christian Muslim Democrats), which became then former Defense Secretary Ramos’ political vehicle which catapulted him to Malacanang in 1992.

We were also privileged to have been elected twice as Speaker of the House of Representatives during the ninth (1992 to 1995) and 10th (1995 to 1998) Congresses, during the Ramos presidency.

With the partnership between the executive and legislative branches of government, the ninth and 10th Congresses passed some 300 socio-political and economic reform laws during the Ramos years.

The Ramos and De Venecia families’ ties go back many decades. Before the outbreak of World War II, our respective fathers, who were lawyers, both worked in the law office of Don Teofilo Sison, who became governor of Pangasinan, senator, and Secretary of Defense during the Philippine Commonwealth.

Narciso Ramos eventually became a congressman and Foreign Affairs secretary, while my father, Jose de Venecia Sr. served as provincial fiscal then the only judge-at-large for the entire Bicol region, then promoted as judge of the Court of First Instance (CFI) in Nueva Vizcaya.

Many years later, in the mid-1960s, FVR and we crossed paths again in the capital Saigon, during the Vietnam War. We were a 29-year-old presidential assistant and assigned as minister and economic and press counselor at the Philippine Embassy in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), and Ramos, an Army major, with the Philippine Civic Action Group (Philcag).

It was also in Vietnam where we met captains Jose Almonte, who became National Security Adviser under Ramos; Renato de Villa, later Defense chief; psywar expert and civic action leader Jose Magno; Thelmo Cunanan, one of the rare Filipino West Pointers, who became a general, and later, a highly-regarded Ambassador to Cambodia, married to noted journalist Belinda Olivares-Cunanan; and Lieutenants Lisandro Abadia and Arturo Enrile, who later became heads of the Armed Forces, and many distinguished others.

We remember that whenever we visited the Philcag headquarters in Tay Ninh province, near the Cambodian border, in our capacity as Minister and Economic and Press Counselor at our embassy in Saigon, FVR would always remind us to put on our fatigues and a helmet, as he said the Vietcong snipers could spot us from several hundred meters away.”

PEACE-MAKER

Jose de Venecia Jr.
Former Speaker of the House

In our column dated March, 20, 2022, we paid tribute to former President Fidel V. Ramos who celebrated his 94th birthday on March 18.

Last Sunday, July 31, FVR, as he was popularly known, who served as the 12th President of the Philippines, passed away at the age of 94.

As our humble way of honoring the life and legacy of a great Filipino leader, peacemaker, democrat, and Asian statesman, we wish to reprint part of our earlier column about him.

“A hero of the EDSA People Power Revolution and veteran of the Vietnam and Korean wars, FVR served our country with great distinction, as a military officer who eventually became chief of staff of the Armed Forces, Secretary of National Defense, and President of the Philippines.

As president, he is best remembered for his peace initiatives, socio-political reforms, economic modernization, people empowerment, and global competitiveness, among many other accomplishments.

Even after his presidency, he continued to serve our country, our Asian region, and the international community in his private capacity, contributing his wisdom, wealth of experience, and political influence in advancing the causes of peace, security, democracy, and development.

He and this columnist, together with the late Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul Manglapus, father of Christian Democracy in Asia, founded the Lakas-NUCD-UMDP (National Union of Christian Democrats-United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines), now Lakas-CMD (Christian Muslim Democrats), which became then former Defense Secretary Ramos’ political vehicle which catapulted him to Malacanang in 1992.

We were also privileged to have been elected twice as Speaker of the House of Representatives during the ninth (1992 to 1995) and 10th (1995 to 1998) Congresses, during the Ramos presidency.

With the partnership between the executive and legislative branches of government, the ninth and 10th Congresses passed some 300 socio-political and economic reform laws during the Ramos years.

The Ramos and De Venecia families’ ties go back many decades. Before the outbreak of World War II, our respective fathers, who were lawyers, both worked in the law office of Don Teofilo Sison, who became governor of Pangasinan, senator, and Secretary of Defense during the Philippine Commonwealth.

Narciso Ramos eventually became a congressman and Foreign Affairs secretary, while my father, Jose de Venecia Sr. served as provincial fiscal then the only judge-at-large for the entire Bicol region, then promoted as judge of the Court of First Instance (CFI) in Nueva Vizcaya.

Many years later, in the mid-1960s, FVR and we crossed paths again in the capital Saigon, during the Vietnam War. We were a 29-year-old presidential assistant and assigned as minister and economic and press counselor at the Philippine Embassy in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), and Ramos, an Army major, with the Philippine Civic Action Group (Philcag).

It was also in Vietnam where we met captains Jose Almonte, who became National Security Adviser under Ramos; Renato de Villa, later Defense chief; psywar expert and civic action leader Jose Magno; Thelmo Cunanan, one of the rare Filipino West Pointers, who became a general, and later, a highly-regarded Ambassador to Cambodia, married to noted journalist Belinda Olivares-Cunanan; and Lieutenants Lisandro Abadia and Arturo Enrile, who later became heads of the Armed Forces, and many distinguished others.

We remember that whenever we visited the Philcag headquarters in Tay Ninh province, near the Cambodian border, in our capacity as Minister and Economic and Press Counselor at our embassy in Saigon, FVR would always remind us to put on our fatigues and a helmet, as he said the Vietcong snipers could spot us from several hundred meters away.”

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