Former ambassador Rodolfo Severino Jr dies at 82

MANILA, Philippines – Retired ambassador Rodolfo Severino Jr, former secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), died Friday night, April 19. He was 82.

His son, GMA News anchor and i-Witness host Howie Severino, confirmed the passing in a touching Facebook post on Good Friday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in a statement on Saturday, April 20, said that it "announces with deep sorrow the demise of Ambassador Rodolfo Severino Jr on April 19, 2019, at the age of 82."

His wake will be held at the Heritage Park in Taguig City, starting Sunday afternoon, April 21, after the cremation.

Severino was ASEAN secretary-general from 1998 to 2002 – "the second Filipino to have earned that distinction," said the DFA.

He was a career diplomat who served the country for over 3 decades.

Just before assuming the ASEAN post, he was DFA undersecretary for policy from 1992 to 1997.

During his 5-year tenure as DFA undersecretary, he was also ASEAN senior official for the Philippines.

Among the highlights of Severino's storied diplomatic service to the country was his role in the opening of Philippine-China relations in the 1970s. He later became minister-counsellor and chargé d'affaires in the embassy in Beijing from 1976 to 1978.

Born on April 27, 1936, Severino obtained a master of arts degree in international relations from John Hopkins University and a bachelor of arts degree in humanities from the Ateneo de Manila University, according to the DFA.

In a 2014 article Howie wrote for GMA News Online, he recalled: "He is a very modest man, rarely calling attention to himself. But I still recall his pride when he told me privately that he wrote the diplomatic communiqué that opened relations between the Philippines and China on our kitchen table. He is known today in diplomacy circles as one of the architects of the regional dialogue infrastructure that keeps potential adversaries talking rather than fighting. Diplomats like him are a major reason our part of the world has been relatively peaceful for decades." – Rappler.com