Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, 57, the acting chief of staff of the Philippine armed forces, is regarded by analysts there and in the United States as a moderate, reform-minded professional.
U.S. officials have made it clear that Washington would like to see Ramos, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who served with Philippine forces in Korea and Vietnam, assume the post permanently.
Ramos was first named acting chief of staff of the armed forces in 1984 after Gen. Fabian Ver was charged as an accessory in the 1983 murder of opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. At that time, Ramos pledged to implement reforms in the military and boost morale.
But because of his limited mandate and the continuing influence of Ver and his supporters, Ramos' success was limited. Some progress was made in processing allegations of human rights violations, military procurement procedures and pay raises for enlisted personnel and officers.
When Ver was acquitted of charges in the Aquino assassination, Marcos reinstated him as chief of staff in December. Last Sunday, Marcos announced Ver's resignation, but the controversial general, one of Marcos' most trusted aides, continued to maneuver favored officers into key positions this week.
Ramos and Ver, both of whom are distant cousins of Marcos and hail from Marcos' home province of Ilocos in the northern Philippines, have a long rivalry. When Ramos was first appointed acting chief of staff, many foreign military attaches and Philippine officers saw a chance to improve the image of the increasingly beleaguered Philippine armed forces.
But a month after he was named, Ramos complained of limited authority to combat the Communist insurgents, whom he described as gaining "significant armed capability."
Before Marcos announced Ver's retirement, Marcos had suggested that the delay was attributable in part to a lack of qualified people. Marcos pointed out that Ramos had been charged with negligence in the shooting deaths of at least 21 demonstrators last September in Escalante on the island of Negros. Witnesses said government paramilitary forces had fired on the crowd. Ramos made a statement, based on information from a local military commander, that the government forces had acted in self-defense.