Former Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat died on Wednesday night, the Department of National Defense (DND) confirmed on Thursday.
DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said Abat passed away at 7 p.m. t the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
“The Department of National Defense mourns the loss of former Defense Secretary and Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Fortunato Abat,” Andolong added.
He said the remains of Abat will lie in state at the Loyola Chapels along Commonwealth Avenue, also in Quezon City, and will be ready for public viewing today.
Abat will be laid to rest on a tentative schedule at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, where he will be given full military honors with necrological service yet to be announced.
In a statement, the Philippine Army described Abat as a “fine officer and a gentleman.”
“He has served in many military campaigns particularly during the martial law era in Mindanao. He is very much respected by our organization because of his accomplishments and legacy that he has provided for the Philippine Army,” said Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva, Army spokesman.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also mourned the passing of Abat, praising his accomplishments for the military and among civilians as well.
“His contributions to the AFP and the Defense department as a unit commander, leader and mentor serve as lasting legacy to the men and women he has worked with and guided all throughout his military and civilian career,” Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin Jr., AFP spokesman, said.
“Noteworthy to mention are his various designations under different administrations that bespeak highly of his reputation as a public servant. The AFP will always be thankful for his service to the country and the Filipino people,” he added.
Abat started his military career as an enlisted man in 1944 during World War II.
After the war, he 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.
For five years, Abat served as the Army chief during the martial law years under then-President Ferdinand Marcos.
Right after his retirement, he joined the Ministry of Human Settlements and months later, he was designated by Marcos as ambassador to China, a position he held for four years until the EDSAuprising in 1986.
Abat served as the secretary of the Department of National Defense under the Ramos administration.