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Ramos aims to reinvent the republic

Such is the dearth of credible leadership in the Philippines that Filipinos, if they could, would probably vote former president Ramos back in by a landslide. If the ex-general pulls off his plans for constitutional change, that might just happen.

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THE OFFICES OF RPDEV Foundation, an organization founded by former Philippines president Fidel V Ramos (FVR), feel like a campaign office in waiting. Filing cabinets are full of research reports, tables groan under the weight of magazines, newspapers and periodicals and there is barely a square inch of wall space that does not sport a photograph of FVR with a president or celebrity. His schedule is full of appointments with politicians, business leaders and the media.

Describing itself as non-partisan, non-profit and a non-stock organization, RPDEV Foundation is FVR's vehicle to promote his vision for the future of the Philippines. The initials stand for Ramos Peace and Development. They might just as easily read Republic of The Philippines Development, for the two are rapidly becoming synonymous as FVR increasingly captures the political high ground.

At the heart of Ramos's manifesto, if indeed that is what it is, lies the urge for reform of the political system in the Philippines in favour of a parliamentary democracy.

Chomping enthusiastically on his trademark Havana cigar, which curiously always remains unlit, Ramos expounds the goals of RPDEV as though he were barking orders on a parade ground: "This is a foundation that is devoted to four major concerns of the people and the republic.

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