MANILA—Several diplomats on Saturday paid tribute to former Ambassador Rodolfo Severino Jr., who died Friday night.
Severino served in the Philippines' diplomatic posts in Malaysia, Houston, and Washington, D.C., and became Foreign Affairs undersecretary for policy and the Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs in 1992 until he retired in 1997.
Before entering foreign service, Severino was a journalist in the 1950s.
After his stint in government, Severino became the second Filipino to be named secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He served in that capacity from 1998 to 2002, during the height of the Asian financial crisis.
The ASEAN, in a statement, described Severino's passing as an "immeasurable loss" to its community.
Choi Shing-Kwok, director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies-Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute) lauded Severino for his leadership.
"As the inaugural head of the ASEAN Studies Center at ISEAS from 2008 to 2015, Mr. Severino held a special place in the hearts and minds of researchers and staff at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. His leadership and stellar contributions to ASEAN will be long remembered and sorely missed," he said.
Thailand Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai also expressed his condolences to the bereaved family of Severino.
"As a well-respected diplomat and a highly dedicated ASEAN Secretary-General, he has immeasurably contributed to the development of ASEAN during the crossover periods of an important world's timeline. His departure is a loss to the region," he said.
Philippine foreign affairs assistant secretary Elmer Cato, meanwhile, lauded Severino and thanked him for his work at the agency even though he only met him on a few occasions.
"Despite this, I still consider myself fortunate as I was able to learn from those among us who he had mentored. I also benefited from the work he left us, including our Manual of Style that the journalist in him just had to put together," Cato said in a Facebook post.
"I had the opportunity to be with Ambassador Severino on a number of occasions and in those encounters I came to know why he was well-loved and respected. He was a giant of a man. I am honored to have known him. Rest In Peace Sir."
In the same Facebook post, former ambassadors Jose dela Rosa and Victoria Bataclan extended their sympathies.
"Indeed, he was an exemplar in his career and a generous mentor for those he had worked. May he rest in peace," Dela Rosa said.
Bataclan added: "Bayan muna higit sa lahat! Mabuhay po kayo Usec Rod Severino! Marami pong salamat sa inyong paglilingkod! Happy crossover to the great beyond! Yakap Weng at buong pamilya."