Former and past senators will pay tribute to former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani during her necrological services on Thursday, March 23, at 2:30 p.m. Shahani succumbed to cancer of the colon at the St. Luke’s Hospital early Monday morning. She was 87.
Senate Secretary Lutgard Barbo said Senate President Koko Pimentel III would present a resolution to Shahani’s family, expressing the Senate’s sympathy and condolences on the death of the former senator.
He said Pimentel, along with Senators Loren Legarda, Bam Aquino IV and former Senators Jun Magsaysay Jr., Nene Pimentel Jr. and Rene Saguisag would deliver a eulogy for Shahani.
Barbo said Senate officials and employees would await the arrival of Shahani’s remains at the main entrance of the Senate building to escort her to the Senate Session Hall at the second floor of the building. He said Shahani’s remains would be available for public viewing after the necrological services.
Born on September 30, 1929 in Lingayen, Pangasinan, Shahani was the daughter of late Foreign Affairs Secretary Narciso Ramos and Angela Valdez. She was the younger sister of former President Fidel V. Ramos.
Shahani was the first female senator to be elected as Senate President Pro-Tempore in the 9th and 10th Congresses. During her stint as senator from 1987 to 1998, Shahani chaired the committees on foreign relations, education, agriculture, and women and family relations.
She authored the Moral Recovery Program in 1987, a law, which aimed to integrate ethical values in nation building. She also authored bills on women’s welfare such as the Strengthening the Prohibition of Discrimination Against Women in the Workplace, Anti-Rape Law of 1997 and Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998. She introduced the inclusion of the mandatory five percent (5%) allocation in the budget of every government department and agency for gender and development.
In 1995, the Senate adopted Resolution 87, honoring Shahani. Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon, who authored the resolution, said Shahani “was one of the finest and most distinguished legislators to ever grace the Senate halls and acknowledged her untiring efforts in pushing for valuable legislation on matters of paramount national interest.”
On the same month, the House of Representatives under then Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., passed Resolution 2007 to citing her as “a distinguished senator, education and diplomat.”
Shahani held various positions in the government such as Ambassador to Australia (1981 to 1986) and Romania (1975-1980), Secretary-General of the World Conference on the United Nations Decade of Women in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985 and Deputy Minister for Philippine Affairs after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. She was also among the highest-ranking women at the United Nations, serving as assistant secretary general for social development and humanitarian affairs from 1981 to 1986.
She co-authored the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, was chair of the UN Commission on Women and secretary general of both the Third UN Conference on Women and Seventh Congress on Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders in 1985.
Shahani finished her degree in English Literature at the Wellesley College in Massachusetts and her Master in comparative literature at the Columbia University in New York. She earned her doctor of philosophy in comparative literature after defending her doctoral thesis with highest honors.
The former legislator was also a former dean of the Graduate School of Lyceum of the Philippines where she taught English Literature, French, Comparative Literature among others. (Olive Caunan)