Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana passed away inside a hotel while on mandatory 21-day quarantine in Anhui, China where the Philippine and Chinese delegations held a bilateral meeting.
The cause of death is still unknown.
“It is with the inconsolable grief of the Secretary and the profound sadness that the Department of Foreign Affairs announces the demise of Philippine Ambassador to China, His Excellency Jose Santiago ‘Chito’ Sta. Romana,” the DFA said in a statement.
A high-ranking source told Business Mirror that Sta. Romana was undergoing a 21-day quarantine at a hotel in Anhui, a mandatory requirement before the envoy can re-enter Beijing and not because he was tested positive of Covid-19.
Sta. Romana was part of the Philippine delegation led by Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. who met their Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. in Tunxi, Anhui Province last April 4.
“The Philippine Embassy in Beijing is coordinating with the Chinese authorities in effecting the immediate repatriation of Ambassador Chito’s remains,” the DFA said.
A veteran broadcast journalist who lived and worked in China for more than three decades, Sta. Romana covered the Tiananmen protests and crackdown in 1989 and saw the economic rise of China in 1990s. He was among the first Filipinos to visit China in 1971 as head of a Filipino youth delegation.
“I learned with profound sadness of the passing of Philippine Ambassador to China, His Excellency Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta Romana. I extend my deepest condolences to the Ambassador Chito’s family and friends, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the government of the Philippines,” Chinese Ambassador to the Manila Huang Xilian said in a Facebook post.
This is the third time Philippine ambassador to Beijing who suffered critical illness while in office. The first was Sonia Brady who suffered stroke in 2012 and the other is Erlinda Basilio who also suffered stroke in 2016.