Ex-Defense Sec. Fortunato Abat dies at 92

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 7) — Former Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat died on Wednesday at the age of 92.

Abat's grandson, Carlo, confirmed this in a Wednesday Facebook post.

Abat was defense chief from September 1997 to June 1998, during the term of President Fidel Ramos.

The Defense Department website said Abat started his military career in 1944 as an enlisted man in World War 2, where he received various medals and decorations for "acts of conspicuous courage and gallantry in the conduct of the pacification campaign in Central Mindanao and for distinguished service in various positions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines."

After the war, Abat entered the Philippine Military Academy as a cadet in 1947 and graduated in 1951. He was also part of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea during the Korean War.

Abat served as Commanding General of the Philippine Army from March 1976 to March 1981, moving to the Ministry of Human Settlements after retiring from military service.

He was then named Philippine Ambassador to China until the EDSA Revolution in 1986, when he became Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.

Later on, Abat was Undersecretary of National Defense during the terms of Defense Secretaries Rafael Ileto and Fidel Ramos.

Before becoming Defense Secretary, Abat was chair of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel that negotiated with the military rebels and other secessionists groups in Mindanao, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

During the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Abat was appointed as President of the John Hay - Poro Point Development Corporation in his native La Union.

He finally served as Chairman of the Military Service Board during the term of President Benigno Aquino III.

Carlo Abat said his grandfather's remains will lie in state at Loyola Commonwealth beginning Friday, March 9, and will then be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

"In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate a contribution to the Hero Foundation, Inc., a cause close to the heart of Gen. Abat," he said.