Ex-Philippine Information Agency chief, U.P. prof Renato Velasco dies
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former Philippine Information Agency (PIA) director general and University of the Philippines political science professor Renato Velasco died on Saturday, April 4. He was 66.
Velasco's sister Bike Velasco Catibog confirmed the professor's death in a Facebook post. His family did not give details about the cause of his death, as of posting.
The UP Political Science Department posted a tribute to Velasco in social media posts.
In memoriam: Renato S Velasco (16 July 1953 - 4 April 2020)— UP Political Science (@upd_polsci) April 4, 2020
Dr Velasco was an associate professor in the Department of Political Science. pic.twitter.com/UzTZeNpxCj
Velasco served as Philippine Information Agency (PIA) chief under then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In one of the books about Arroyo that he co-authored, Velasco wrote about how the Philippines coped with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.
In a message of sympathy to the Velasco family, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and PIA OIC Abner Caga said Velasco "steered PIA with his unique brand of firm yet compassionate and intelligent leadership; a humble and generous dedicated public servant who sees the potential of young leaders and encourages them to excel in the work that they do."
"PIA employees also remember him as a dear colleague who continually challenges them to be the best version of themselves in rendering true, selfless public service," they added, a sentiment shared by people who served under Velasco in their respective tributes to their former boss on social media.
During the Arroyo administration, Velasco also served as Presidential Management Staff head and in various government-owned and -controlled corporations. He was former chairman of the Alternative Fuels Corporation of the Philippine National Oil Company, and a director of the Development Bank of the Philippines, John Hay and Port Point Development Corporation, and the PNOC-Exploration Corporation.
Velasco was also the president of the Association for Philippine-China Understanding. He hosted an APCU forum on the coronavirus disease in February which was keynoted by Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.
UP Political Science Professor Clarita Carlos, who called Velasco her "star student," expressed her condolences on Facebook. "Dami pa sana natin gagawin tungo sa mayabong na relasyon sa pagitan ng Pilipinas at Tsina (We had so much more to do to improve the relations of the Philippines and China)," she said.
The UP Political Science Department also lost its administrative personnel, Zenaida Salas, more affectionately known as "Ate Zeny" to the faculty and students.
Salas died on April 2. She was 68 years old. No details on the cause of her death were given.
In loving memory of Zenaida F Salas (7 May 1951 - 2 April 2020)— UP Political Science (@upd_polsci) April 3, 2020
Maraming salamat at paalam, Ate Zeny. pic.twitter.com/lcqLhWCC9s