‘Shahani’s death a big loss’
SENATORS on Monday expressed their condolences to the family of former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, younger sister of former President Fidel V. Ramos, who succumbed to cancer at the intensive care unit of a Taguig hospital early Monday morning.
She was 87.
Shahani’s daughter Lila Shahani, secretary general of the Philippine National Commission to Unesco, said her mother passed away at 2:40 a.m.
“Mom left the body, by the awful grace of God, at 2:40 a.m. this morning, just a few hours after my 50th birthday,” the younger Shahani wrote in her Facebook post.
“Bereft and full of grief, but still strangely peaceful in the knowledge that she is now free from all suffering,” Lila added.
The senators, some of whom worked with the late senator and diplomat, described Shahani as a “shining example of a public servant whom our present and future leaders must strive to emulate.”
Shahani had three children with the late Ranjee Shahani, a former professor and writer. She won as senator in the 1987 elections and served the Senate until 1998. She was chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Senate president pro-tempore, and chairperson of the Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture, among others during her term.
As senator, Shahani authored and sponsored various laws covering culture, education, agriculture, foreign service, women’s rights, and animal rights.
She was in the foreign service for 20 years and served as the United Nations Secretary general for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs. She worked in the UN Division of Human Rights from 1964 to 1968, and chaired the Commission on the Status of Women in 1974.
She became the Philippine ambassador to Australia, Romania, Hungary and West Germany before she was appointed undersecretary of Foreign Affairs and chairperson of the National Commission on Women.
Senator Franklin Drilon hailed Shahani as “a celebrated legislator, diplomat, writer and academician, Shahani represented the very best of Filipina skill, intelligence and determination.”
“She is also credited for initiating and advocating for the Moral Recovery Program, which is aimed at integrating ethical values into nation building and government,” Drilon added.
“As a neophyte senator back in 1995, I have had the honor of serving with Senator Ramos-Shahani in the halls of the Upper Chamber. I remember her 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,” said Drilon.
“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,” he added.
While we are saddened by her passing, her legacy will continue to inspire our nation and our people.”
Senator Sonny Angara noted that Shahani, even out of the Senate, was a credible voice of those and many other issues. He said the late senator served the government well, first as a diplomat at the DFA and then as a two-term senator who passed several laws on education, culture and women’s rights.
Senator Grace Poe said that “today, we have lost a formidable advocate of women’s rights, a staunch environmentalist and a seasoned diplomat.”
Poe said Shahani demonstrated how public service should be: sincere, dynamic and exemplary.
“She is an inspiration to generations of women because of her steadfast principles and decisive actions,” said Poe.
Senator Loren Legarda said Shahani was “one of the finest and distinguished legislators we ever had.”
“As a legislator, diplomat, environmentalist, educator, culture and women’s rights advocate, she fervently pushed for women empowerment both here and in the international arena, Legarda said.
“Manang Letty, thank you for your untiring service to the Filipino nation. You will be missed greatly, she added.
Senator Miguel Zubiri said he will miss Shahani as a lady who doesn’t know the word retirement, much less retreat.
“She is made of true genuine Ilocano stuff of kasipagan, katipiran at kagitingan. Up to her last years she was active in her farming endeavors,” said Zubiri.
Zubiri said Shahani once sought him out to improve farm productivity and increase the incomes of farmers in Pangasinan.
“She knew age-old problems needed modern solutions which she applied in Pangasinan and the rest of the Philippines. She headed the Senate Committees on foreign Affairs, on Education, Culture and Arts and on Agriculture and Food, to which she came home to as a champion of farmers and of the dairy industry.”
He added that before she was elected senator, Shahani was into poverty alleviation.
“Long before we heard the term inclusive growth, Madam Shahani was already in on the germination of this idea in the 21st century as then UN Assistant Secretary General for Social and Humanitarian Affairs.
“She is irreplaceable for her noble causes and her humility despite her intellectual and political stature,” also said Zubiri.
Senate President Koko Pimentel said he never got the chance to work with Shahani as a legislator, but “my father did, and they were very close.”
“And then of course, Senator Shahani was our recognized voice or leading expert in foreign relations, so we will miss her and the chance for her to advice us on matters of foreign relations, especially now that is more important than ever, or more relevant than ever,” he added.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Shahani was a big loss for the country.
“I join the whole nation in mourning the passing of Senator Leticia Valdez Ramos-Shahani. The country has lost a great leader who loved her country deeply. She was a distinguished stateswoman, who very competently handled, not only the country’s national affairs but also its foreign affairs with integrity and dignity.
She had an unblemished record in all her years of public service. She was a woman leader for all seasons. Always gentle and kind,” Recto said.
“For me and the people of Olongapo, Clark and other base zones, Letty will always be remembered and revered as the senator who steered the Bases Conversion and Development Authority Bill. She was patient and compassionate with the people of the base lands who were affected by the withdrawal of the bases. She listened to us as we gave her our vision and our plan for Subic. She was very magnanimous in agreeing to insert our Freeport plan into her bill and in the process created Subic, Clark and other base zones,” said Senator Richard Gordon.
Meanwhile, former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada said the death of Shahani, his former colleague in the Senate, is a big loss to the country.
“She never rested until her term as senator has ended, she continued serving the Filipino people. She’s a big loss,” Estrada said.
“On behalf of the City of Manila, we convey our deepest condolences to the family of Sen. Leticia Ramos Shahani. The Filipino nation lost a true-blue public servant, a fierce defender of women’s rights, a seasoned diplomat, and a devoted environmentalist,” the Manila mayor said.
Estrada served with Shahani at the Senate from 1987 to 1992. She went on to continue being a lawmaker until 1998, even becoming Senate president pro-tempore in the 9th and 10th Congresses, and chaired the committees on foreign relations, education, agriculture, and women and family relations.
“We became close in the Senate,” Estrada recalled, adding that he considers Shahani one of his mentors.
Also lamenting the death of Shahani is the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas.
“We mourn the death of our brave-patriotic ally former-Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani. We lost a real patriot in the midst of the intensified violations of our sovereign and territorial rights committed by several foreign powers including China who has yet to give up its irrational claim on our territory and now plans to build permanent structure in Scarborough Shoal,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chairperson, said in a statement.
“Former-senator Shahani was active and consistent in joining protest actions in defense of our sovereignty against Chinese incursions and other foreign meddling. She actively campaigned and promoted independent foreign policy with the central objective of liberating our country from all types of foreign dictates and domination in the name of genuine independence,” said Hicap.
Shahani was also a convener of the broad-patriotic alliance Pilipinong Nagkakaisa Para sa Soberanya (P1NAS) which spearheaded numerous campaigns in fighting the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On September 2015, she joined the national fact-finding mission led by Pamalakaya and P1NAS in Zambales to study the adverse socio-economic effects of Chinese incursion on the Filipino fishermen.
Some of the recognitions conferred on Shahani were the French Legion of Honor, Order of Commander, conferred by President Jacques Chirac in 1996; United Nations Population Award in 1996; Rafael Salas Population and Development Award in 1996; Lazo de Dama de la Orden de Isabel la Catolica, conferred by King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1996; Gintong Ina Award for Public Service in 1990; and The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) in 1974, among many others.