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Senators pay tribute to Shahani

Daughter Lila Shahani speaks during the necrological service in honor of the late Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani at the session hall of the Senate in Pasay City. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

Daughter Lila Shahani speaks during the necrological service in honor of the late Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani at the session hall of the Senate in Pasay City. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

Lawmakers honored former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani on Thursday, calling her a “workhorse,” “quorum maker,” “empowered Filipina” and “mentor” during the two-hour necrological rites at the Senate.

Shahani, a two-term senator, died on  Monday after battling colon cancer.

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The tribute was graced by two former Presidents—Fidel Ramos, her brother, and Joseph Estrada—as well as past and present senators who came to pay tribute to “Manang Letty” or “Tita Letty” and her life and achievements.

Present during the necrological rites were former Senate presidents Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. and Edgardo Angara, and  Wigberto Tañada, Santanina Rasul, Rene Saguisag, Rodolfo Biazon, Heherson Alvarez, Loi Estrada, Nikki Coseteng and Ramon Magsaysay Jr.

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 ‘Empowered Filipina’

Sen. Loren Legarda said it was no coincidence that Shahani passed away on women’s month.

“Perhaps, even until her death, she wanted to make a statement on women empowerment. Manang Letty was, after all, a true embodiment of the empowered Filipina,” Legarda said.

Saguisag said he was an “accidental public servant tutored by Manang Letty,” adding that the Senate “lost a jewel” in Shahani.

Saguisag fondly recalled that he and Shahani were not the type to fork out money to constituents. “She would even scold them,” he said.

Magsaysay said he looked up to Shahani for guidance when they were colleagues in the Senate in 1995. He said he would always remember her for her quote, “Poverty is not a hindrance to one’s success.”

‘Tita Letty’

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Sen. Bam Aquino said he first met Shahani as a 9-year-old child during the senatorial campaign for administration candidates. He even sang a line of Shahani’s catchy campaign jingle, saying he was honored to have campaigned for “Tita Letty.”

Majority Leader Sen. Vicente Sotto III recalled his debates with Shahani on many issues in the 9th and 10th Congress. Sotto said Shahani “lived humbly and stayed from anything unworthy.”

Responding to the tributes, Shahani’s daughter Lila, on behalf of her siblings Ranjit and Chanda, thanked the lawmakers for their kind words and thoughts.

“Letty Ramos Shahani held the Senate in the highest esteem as a key institution in governing of the country as a nation of laws dedicated to fostering justice and freedom not only for a privileged few but each and everyone of its citizens. For mom, lawmaking was a protractive and deliberative process that required negotiation and coalition building rather than threats of losing committee posts or reckless impeachment threats. The law for mom was meant to protect the weak and the marginalized as well as check the abuses of the rich and powerful,” the younger Shahani said.

She said her mother believed that legislation was a “means for democracy not a cudgel for beating the poor and terrorizing the weak.”

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TAGS: Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Philippine news updates
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