Present and past senators on Thursday paid tribute to former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani at the Senate as they recalled her achievements and contributions to the country and the world as a Filipina lawmaker, diplomat and educator.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III led senators in presenting Shahani’s family, including her brother and former President Fidel Ramos, with adopted Senate Resolution No. 44 which expressed the Senate’s “sympathy and condolences” on the death of the former legislator.
“I have never had the honor of serving alongside Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani in the Senate, but from what I have learned of her from those who knew her personally, one of whom is my father, I can say that the Senate was blessed by her selfless and dedicated presence in our institution as a lawmaker for two terms, Pimentel said.
As a senator, Pimentel said, Shahani fought for the country’s foreign policy interests, for the welfare of women, for the preservation of culture and the arts, for farmers and fisherfolk, for small businessmen, for victims of rape and discrimination, and for the moral governance through her advocacies and the laws that she passed.
Former Senate President Nene Pimentel, Jr. called Shahani a “workhorse of the Senate.” He noted her steady presence in committee hearings who relentlessly pushed for her advocacies.
“I can only say that the Senate was blessed by her selfless and dedicated presence as a lawmaker for two terms and so was the country,” the elder Pimentel said in his eulogy.
Former Senator Rene Saguisag described Shahani as a person with a passion for precision and expression.
“She served as our expert advocate for an independent foreign policy. She would not want us to resume being America’s last plantation nor China’s new one,” he said.
“I also learned from her that the only thing in life that we can be is to be kind,” Saguisag added.
Former Senator Jun Magsaysay, Jr. said he looked up to Shahani for guidance and wisdom when he was a member of the Senate. He said Shahani was a formidable and admirable legislator “who relentlessly and tirelessly pursued the things she believed in.”
“Manang Letty deserved each and every word printed on her honor. Let us continue to remember her works and legacy. We feel blessed that we became a part of her life,” Senator Alan Cayetano said.
Senator Richard Gordon said that “age cannot wither a person like Shahani nor custom stale her infinite variety.”
Senator Loren Legarda described Shahani as a “true epitome of women empowerment,” while Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto III said Shahani “symbolizes education as the door of achieving one’s potential.”
“I am grateful for the foundation laid down by Tita Letty. She contributed much in raising the status of women in the country. Just last year, our country ranked as the 7th most gender equal society, No. 1 in Asia, according to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report. A great achievement for our country and I am certain thanks in part to the contributions of the fierce women’s advocate who was Tita Letty,” Senator Bam Aquino IV said.
Born on September 30, 1929 in Lingayen, Pangasinan, Shahani passed away last March 20, 2017, at the age of 87.
The Senate resolution noted that Shahani, who served at the Senate from 1987 to 1998, was an accomplished lawmaker, who “was instrumental in the enactment of quality legislative measures that gave emphasis on education, economics, and natural resources and environmental protection.”
Among her legislative achievements are the Republic Act (RA) 7356, which created the National Commission for Culture and the Arts; RA 7227, or the “Bases Conversion and Development Act,” RA 7157 or the “Philippine Foreign Service Act;” RA 8505, or the “Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998;” RA 8550, or the “The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998,” and RA 6977, or the “Magna Carta for Small Enterprises.”
According to the resolution, Shahani, the first Filipina to have been elected to the position of Senate President Pro Tempore, was a women’s right advocate who “successfully introduced the mandatory five percent allocation in the annual General Appropriations Act for gender-responsive projects, in accordance with RA 7193 or the Women in Development and Nation Building Act.”
Apart from her work in the Senate, the resolution recalled that Shahani was “a notable personality in the international arena,” who held various positions in the Philippine Foreign Service such as ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Romania and the Commonwealth of Australia. She was appointed Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs after the 1986 People Power Revolution.
Shahani, the resolution said, also served in the United Nations as the Chairperson of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the Secretary General for the Seventh Congress on Crime Prevention and the Treatment of Offenders in Milan, Italy, and the Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya, among other posts.
The resolution also said that Shahani was a “woman of exceptional academic attainment” who studied in Wellesley College in Massachussetts, USA, Columbia University in New York, USA, and the University of Paris, France, where she received her Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Sociology.
“She taught a variety of courses… and served as faculty member at the University of the Philippines, and as Dean of the College of International, Humanitarian and Development Studies of Miriam College, and as Dean of the Graduate School of the Lyceum of the Philippines,” the resolution said. ###