GOYANG CITY—Former President Fidel Ramos, a veteran of the Korean War, on Sunday urged President Aquino to visit Korea to see the war monuments built for the soldiers his father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., followed closely as a war correspondent.
Ramos, 85, said Aquino should also see for himself how Korea rose from the ashes of war to become one of the most powerful countries in the world.
The President’s father came with the 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) in September 1950 “and went alongside the troops in their operations,” he said in his remarks at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Philippine Monument here. He thanked the people of Goyang and the nearby communities and their country for putting up the monument.
Seven other Filipino war veterans are in Korea to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the ceasefire between North Korea and South Korea on July 27, 1953.
They were retired Generals Benjamin Santos and Prudencio Regis, Colonels Vicente Alhambra, Ishmael Rodrigo and Jovencio Dominguez, and Lieutenants Dionisio Layaoen and Severino Aquino. Crescencia Felicia, who is in her mid-80s, represented her husband, the late Lt. Maximino Felicia.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his wife, Rhodora, Philippine Ambassador to Korea Luis Cruz, Goyang Mayor Choi Sung and other veterans also attended the event. Choi called the veterans and their fallen comrades “real-life heroes.”
The Philippines was among the 16 countries that sent combat troops in response to the United Nations call to assist South Korea in repelling the North. It sent five battalions—the 10th, 20th, 19th, 14th and 2nd BCTs—over five years under the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea to join the allied forces.
Ramos fought with the 20th (not the 29th as reported on Sunday), along with Santos, Regis and Rodrigo.
A portrait depicting the late Senator Aquino as a reporter in Korea and his newspaper article titled “1st Cav Knifes Through 38th Parallel” is captured in the old P500 bill that his son, the President, likes to give to Koreans as souvenirs, the Inquirer learned.
The 38th Parallel divides the Korean Peninsula into the communist North and the capitalist South. With the absence of a peace treaty, they remain technically at war.
Sources told the Inquirer that the Korean government had invited Aquino for a visit, but there were no concrete plans yet when it would take place.
For Ramos, it is important that Aquino see for himself the “fortitude” of Korea and the great strides it has made since rebuilding itself from the ashes of war.
“[Mr. Aquino should] also personally see the great progress that has taken place in [Korea] just two and a half generations after the total devastation brought by the Korean War from 1950 to 1953,” Ramos said.
He said it was an “inspiring model of development and modernization, which has been made possible by collective sacrifice, patriotism, love of peace development and world harmony.”
Ramos, who maintains close ties with Korea, said it was incumbent upon Seoul “to continue providing a shining example to other developing nations like the Philippines.”
“A poor country, war-ravaged at that like South Korea, can emerge within 50 years or less into an advanced nation that has become a donor country to other impoverished nations and people around the world,” he said.