JOSE Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana, Philippine ambassador to China and previously a Beijing-based broadcast journalist for over 30 years, passed away on April 19, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced.
He was 74.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) offers its sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Ambassador Chito, to our nation for its great loss,” the department said in a statement.
Mr. Sta. Romana was appointed envoy to China in Dec. 2016 by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who pursued a foreign policy of friendly ties with China amid growing maritime tensions over the South China Sea dispute.
He was chosen for the Beijing post “in recognition of his deep knowledge of China’s history and people,” DFA said. “We honor his important legacy of selfless service to the Filipino in the most challenging foreign post.”
In a 2011 email interview with UCLA language students posted on the www.liwanagatdilim.cdh.ucla.edu website, when he had just retired as a journalist and was recently back in the Philippines, he talked about seeing China’s growth as an economic power.
“The Philippines can learn a lot from the experiences of China in terms of development of economy… This includes the effort to solve the problem of poverty through appropriate policies. This problem will not be solved if we don’t focus on the progress of the economy to be able to give the poor a chance to be able to better their situations,” Mr. Sta. Romana said.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a statement, “After assuming the post of the Philippine Ambassador to China in 2017, he worked actively and industriously, making important contributions to promoting bilateral relations and friendship between our two peoples.”
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, in a Facebook post on Tuesday, also extended his condolences to the ambassador’s family and friends.
“China-Philippine relations have been strengthened and indeed flourished under his distinguished tenure as the Philippine Ambassador to China,” said Mr. Huang. “I greatly value our time working together and will always be grateful for his friendship and undeniable contribution to the development of China-Philippines relations.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan