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Fidel Ramos

The president of the Philippines has made one of the most unusual journeys in the democratic world. The former security boss to Ferdinand Marcos became the unofficial spokesman for liberal democracy in authoritarian Asia

By Edward Luce   February 1997

Imagine that Felipe Gonzalez before becoming prime minister of democratic Spain had been head of General Franco’s security police. This bizarre political trajectory might be unimaginable in modern Spain, but it is almost exactly what happened in east Asia’s most “exuberant” democracy – the Philippines.

Fidel Ramos, the bespectacled, cigar-chomping technocrat who replaced Cory Aquino as president five years ago, was head of the country’s security apparatus in the bad old days under strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Under Ramos’s tenure thousands of leftwing activists and Muslim insurgents either disappeared or emerged badly scathed at the hands of the elite unit of…

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