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2000 Distinguished Graduate Award

President Fidel V. Ramos '50

A distinguished soldier who began his military career as an infantry platoon leader in the Philippine Counter-Insurgency campaign, then fought in both Korea and Vietnam and rose to become Chief of Staff of the Philippine Armed Forces; an architect of peace whose dynamic leadership stabilized a troubled country; a nation builder whose every action exemplified the words of the West Point Motto: Duty, Honor, Country; and a President whose steadfast dedication to the principles of democracy and faith in the Philippine people dramatically reversed a stagnant economy, Fidel Valdez Ramos has served his country with distinction and integrity over an active career spanning five decades.
General Ramos graduated from West Point in 1950 and then attended graduate school at the University of Illinois, where he was awarded a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1951. Returning to the Philippines, he served as an infantry platoon leader with the Second Battalion Combat Team, Philippine Army, during the counter-insurgency campaign. In 1952, he joined the 20th Battalion Combat Team as an infantry reconnaissance platoon leader with the Philippine Expeditionary Force in Korea. For the next ten years, he held positions of increasing responsibility in command and staff assignments in the Philippine Army, culminating in his appointment to command the First Special Forces Group (Airborne), a position he held for three years. In 1966 Fidel Ramos joined the First Philippine Civic Action Group in Vietnam as Chief of Staff. In 1968, he was named Presidential Assistant on Military Affairs, and in 1970 he assumed command of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army.
A year later, General Ramos was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Home Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines. In 1972, he was named Chief, Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Armed Forces, a position he held for fourteen years. Concurrently, in 1975 he was appointed to the position of Director-General of the Philippine Integrated National Police. In 1981, Fidel Ramos was selected to be Vice Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He remained in that assignment for five years, the last two as Acting Chief of Staff.
These bare facts of General Ramos’ senior military assignments do not address the many years of political turmoil and instability, government corruption, and personal danger that he faced during President Marcos’ presidency.
In recognition of his outstanding leadership and courage — attributes that impelled him to play a paramount role in returning democracy to the Philippines, he was named Military Hero of the Peaceful People Revolution. This brief but momentous chapter in his military career led to Fidel Ramos’ assignment as Chief of Staff of the Philippine Armed Forces and two years later, his appointment as Secretary of National Defense.
In June 1992, General Ramos was elected 12th President of the Republic of the Philippines. He inherited a nation in the midst of a deepening crisis. Prolonged political instability, exacerbated by mounting casualties from attacks by Moro secessionists, military rebels, and terrorists; a poor and shrinking economy; a failing infrastructure; and a population disillusioned by the unfulfilled promises and high hopes generated by the overthrow of President Marcos all contributed to a sense of despondency that gripped the country.
President Ramos saw all of these problems as challenges. He understood that with proper motivation, strong and optimistic leadership, and a willingness to listen to the Philippine people, great strides could be made.
During his six-year term of office, remarkable gains were made by the Philippines in revitalizing the economy, repairing the infrastructure, and establishing peace with dissident factions of the country.
Promoting the principles of People Empowerment and Global Competitiveness, President Ramos never lost sight of the need to preserve and protect the democratic process in politics.
Fidel Ramos turned his attention to transportation, which was totally inadequate to the Nation's needs in 1992. Through his energetic efforts, land, sea, and air facilities were upgraded; new bridges and roads were built to facilitate movement of goods to market; inter-island ferries were established; and rail transportation was improved, including intercity light rail.
President Ramos challenged the national long distance monopoly in communications, opening the field to competitors, and providing for cellular and home telephone service unavailable to the average Philippine citizen in 1992.
In 1991, the growth rate of the Philippine economy was a flat one percent and contracting. During the six years of the Ramos administration, the growth rate of the Gross National Product was 5.5%, peaking at 6.9% in 1996.
President Ramos fully understood that political stability was the key to the success of his ambitious economic and social programs. As a priority task, he was determined to make a just and enduring peace with the parties at odds with the government. These included the military rebels and the Moro National Liberation Front. By 1996, a formal peace agreement had been reached with both parties.
President Ramos and Nur Misuari, the Chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front, received the 1997 Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize, the first time this prize had been awarded to an Asian nation.
Fidel Ramos always kept close to his people. In 1997 alone, he made 70 provincial visits and held 18 regional cabinet meetings.
The Philippine recovery during 1992-1998 was dramatic. No small part of this effort was the comprehensive social program introduced by President Ramos. The Social Reform Agenda addressed long-standing problems of health, education, skills training, housing, aid for the handicapped, agrarian reform, and equal opportunity. The average family income grew more during President Ramos’ administration than in the previous twenty years.
Fidel Ramos pushed for the deregulation of key industries, liberalization of the economy, privatization of public entities, and the encouraging of foreign investment.
Among his many decorations and honors, General Ramos has been awarded the Philippine Military Merit Medal (with Spearhead), the Distinguished Service Star (with Silver and Bronze Anahaw leaf), the Military Commendation Medal (First Bronze Equilateral Triangle), the Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Commander with Third Bronze Anahaw Leaf), the Distinguished Conduct Star, and the United States Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander). He has received honorary degrees and awards too numerous to be listed.
Throughout a lifetime of military and public service, Fidel Ramos has demonstrated resolute courage, peerless leadership, and unswerving devotion to duty. Over the fifty years since he graduated from West Point, he has lived by the ideals expressed in the West Point Motto: Duty, Honor, Country.
Accordingly, the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 2000 Distinguished Graduate Award to Fidel Valdez Ramos, USMA Class of 1950.

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