Former Senate media head Sammy Santos dies

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Former Senate media head Sammy Santos dies
(1st UPDATE) Sammy Santos was a reporter and editor before he joined the media relations arm of the Senate. He was 63.

MANILA, Philippines – Samuel “Sammy” Santos, longtime media relations head of the Senate and former newspaper reporter and editor, died on Saturday evening, June 29, due to complications from a recent heart bypass surgery. He was 63.

Santos’ wife Julie announced his death on Facebook late Saturday, asking for prayers and saying “he passed away at the hospital.” Sammy and Julie have two grown-up daughters, Samantha and Julia.

At the time of his death, he was vice president for public affairs and special events division of the Social Security System, a post he took months after he retired from the Senate. He went through a heart bypass surgery on June 5, according to his wife.

A former campus journalist in Zamboanga City, Santos moved to Manila in the 1980s and worked as a reporter for the now-defunct Manila Chronicle and the Philippine Star, and as section editor of the now-defunct Daily Globe and the Philippine Daily Inquirer

As a young reporter, Santos covered Malacañang when the late Corazon Aquino was president, and the labor department under the late Augusto “Bobbit” Sanchez and Franklin Drilon. 

“Sammy was not a newbie when he went to Manila to work as a journalist,” recalled Santos’ longtime friend and former colleague at the Labor Press Corps, Joey Salgado. “He was a campus editor at the Ateneo de Zamboanga and a reporter for a local daily. I first met him during a national congress of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.”

People, Person, Clothing
REPORTER DAYS. The late Sammy Santos (left) with a colleague and the late former labor minister Bobbit Sanchez.

“He covered the labor beat at a time when the labor movement was undergoing a regeneration and the labor department had a feisty and controversial secretary, the former human rights lawyer Bobbit Sanchez,” Salgado recalled. “Those where exciting and challenging times for a young journalist and Sammy was there with the rest of us.”

It was his professional relationship with former labor secretary Drilon that shaped Santos’ second phase in his career – as a public relations person. Santos joined Drilon as his media office after the latter got elected senator. After Drilon became Senate president, Santos was named head of the Senate’s Public Relations Information Bureau.

Wake will be at the Aeternitas Chapels and Columbarium on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, beside St Peter’s Church. Cremation and inurnment will be on July 9 at 9 am, also in Aeternitas Chapels and Columbarium. –

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