Ex-senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, 87, passes away hours after daughter's birthday
The online news portal of TV5
(UPDATE 7 - 12:26 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines – Former senator Leticia Valdez Ramos-Shahani, 87, the younger sister of former President Fidel Ramos, passed away early Monday morning, March 20, just hours after her daughter, Lila Shahani, celebrated her birthday.
"Mom left the body, by the awful grace of God, at 2:40 am this morning, just a few hours after my 50th birthday,” Lila, secretary-general of the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO announced on her Facebook page.
“Bereft and full of grief, but still strangely peaceful in the knowledge that she is now free from all suffering,” added Lila, assistant secretary of the Cabinet cluster during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.
It was in May 2015 when Leticia, former Senate president protempore, who was also a foreign policy expert, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.
Lila thanked all those who had prayed for her mother, whose wake will start on Wednesday, March 22, at the Funeraria Paz in Sucat, Parañaque.
The Palace , through presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, said it was “saddened by” Shahani’s passing.
“Senator Shahani served the nation well as Senator of the Republic and worked tirelessly in the executive branch in various capacities under different administrations,” said Malacanang.
“Our condolences and prayers to the family and friends of the former Senator. She was a profound humanist and her voice will be missed.”
Rafael Alunan III, Department of Interior and Local Government secretary during the Ramos administration, also condoled with the Ramos-Shahani family in their loss.
“She lived a moral and selfless life of service. Thank you Ma'am for all the good you did for the country and for humanity,” said Alunan.
'Shining example of a public servant'
Sen. Franklin Drilon said Shahani was a “celebrated legislator, diplomat, writer and academician” who represented the very best of Filipina skill, intelligence and determination.”
He said that as neophyte senator back in 1995, Drilon had the honor of serving with Shahani, whom he remembered “as a determined and hardworking lawmaker, who tirelessly championed the passage of key legislation that benefit and positively influence the lives of our people up to this day.”
“I will be forever proud that during my time as Senate President in the 16th Congress, I led the chamber in honoring the life and works of Senator Ramos-Shahani with Senate Resolution No. 87, which she personally received from us,” said Drilon.
He added that Shahani “remains a shining example of a public servant who our present and future leaders must strive to emulate. While we are saddened by her passing, her legacy will continue to inspire our nation and our people.”
For her part, Sen. Grace Poe said that the nation had “lost a formidable advocate of women's rights, a staunch environmentalist and a seasoned diplomat.”
“From her extensive career in the foreign service to her stint in the Senate, Manang Letty demonstrated how public service should be: sincere, dynamic and exemplary,” said Poe.
“She is an inspiration to generations of women because of her steadfast principles and decisive actions. Our deepest condolences to the Ramos-Shahani family,” she added.
Shahani hoped Martial Law won’t come back
Shahani, appointed in 1981 as ambassador to Australia, was among the first diplomats who resigned from her post on December 28, 1985, two months before the downfall of then President Ferdinand Marcos, to join the protest against the late strongman that culminated in the 1986 EDSA uprising.
In March last year, Shahani disputed the claims of some politicians that there would still be a Solid North vote for Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, then eyeing a vice presidential post.
"I think our experience under martial law was not good and I hope it does not come back again and I'm sure many Ilocanos share that," she said in an interview. "I hope and wish that we shall not have martial law and no Ilocano will declare it in our country."
Shahani said the so-called Solid North was destroyed with the bad experience of Ilocanos during the 20-year dictatorship of Marcos’s father, Ferdinand.
"There is no solid vote in the North," she said. "I beg your pardon. I am an Ilocano and Ferdinand Marcos was my second cousin. But it does not mean automatically we'll vote for Marcos."
Nonetheless, Shahani said that the country remained under democracy that gave everybody the freedom whom they wanted to elect and rule them.
"And politics, of course, because we are in democracy that’s why I participate because I believe people could participate in democratic process of the country and select the politicians whom they want to rule them," she said.
Fought vs foreign intrusion
Even when she was already sick, Shahani joined the fact-finding mission to Zambales to show support to Filipino fishermen who were being denied their right to fish near the disputed Panatag Shoal.
“She often lamented why the Philippines, an archepelagic country, did not develop its navy and its own shipping industry, making us unable to defend our waters and dependent on other foreign powers,” said the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
[READ RELATED STORY: LOOK | Activists praise Shahani, who stood vs foreign intervention, China incursion into West PH Sea]