By Severino Samonte
Do you know that former President Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998), who passed away on Sunday at age 94, was the second Filipino chief executive to die at an age nearing the century mark?
The first was Gen Emilio F. Aguinaldo (1898-1901), first president of the Philippine Republic, who died on Feb. 6, 1964 at 95. He was born on March 22, 1869.
Both Aguinaldo and Ramos were holders of the military rank of general. Aguinaldo was a general in the Philippine Revolutionary Army while also serving as president until he was captured by pursuing American forces in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901.
On the other hand, Gen. Ramos was former chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and also served as secretary of National Defense during the administration of the late former President Corazon C. Aquino (1986-1992). He was also the last chief of the Philippine Constabulary, precursor of the present Philippine National Police (PNP).
Incidentally, the death of Ramos occurred on the eve of the observance on August 1 of the death anniversary of two other former Philippine presidents — Manuel L. Quezon (1935-1944) and Corazon C. Aquino.
Quezon, the second president of the Philippines, died on August 1, 1944, while the Philippine Commonwealth government was in exile in the United States.
Aquino, on the other hand, died on August 1, 2009, less than a year before her only son, Benigno S. Aquino III, was to be elected as the 15th president of the Republic in the May 2010 polls.
The young Aquino (2010-2016) died on June 24, 2021 at age 61, barely five years after leaving the presidency.
Of the country’s 13 deceased presidents as of July this year, three died while in office. They were Presidents Manuel A. Roxas (1946-1948); Ramon F. Magsaysay (1953-1957); and Quezon.
Roxas died while on an official visit to the former Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga on April 15, 1948, while Magsaysay was among those who perished in a plane crash on a mountain in Cebu on March 17, 1957.
The other dead former Filipino presidents were: Jose P. Laurel Sr. (1943-1945); Sergio S. Osmena Sr. (1944-1946); Elpidio R. Quirino ((1948-1953); Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961); Diosdado P. Macapagal (1961-1965); and Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. (1965-1986).
At present, aside from the current and 17th President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., the country has three living former chief executives, namely: Joseph E. Estrada (1998-Jan. 20, 2001); Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-2010); and Rodrigo R. Duterte (2016-2022). (PNA)