By DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
Last Monday, Jose V. Romero, patriot and nationalist, diplomat, economist, author, educator, government bureaucrat, and journalist passed away in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. He was all these, and more. And above all, he was the foremost champion of hundreds of thousands of coconut farmers over several decades now. He once served as chair of the Philippine Coconut Authority while he was undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture during the administration of President Cory Aquino. He was later appointed as ambassador to Italy where as chief of mission to Rome, he also served concurrently as executive director of the Common Fund for Commodities and permanent representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. He was also Chair of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations for many years until his passing.
Ambassador Romero obtained his bachelor and masters degree in political economy from Trinity College, Cambridge. He also did postgraduate work in economics at Georgetown University and his doctorate in development management at the University of Asia and the Pacific. He once was assistant publisher of the Manila Bulletin and contributed to the Financial Times of London.
He also worked as an economist at the Department of Economic Research of the Central Bank, was director-general of the Congressional Planning Office, was board member of the United Coconut Planters’ Bank, and president of the Coconut Investment Management Co.
A professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific where he held the Diosdado Macapagal Professorial Chair in Political Economy, he was also a member of its Board of Trustees. He was also professorial lecturer at the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication where he was a trustee.
His writings include “Postwar Political Economy, Volumes 1 and 2, “Transforming the Coconut Industry,” where he narrated the sad saga of the coconut industry which he noted “was confined to the dustbin of history after past administrations failed to do justice to the plundered coconut farmers – the ‘pariahs’ of the Philippine economy.”
Joe was also active in the business circles where he was co-founder of the Makati Business Club, and former president of the Philippine Economic Society.
Joe and I and three other colleagues were co-researchers and authors of a book, a product of three years of nation-wide field consultations with several sectors of society during the last years of martial law. Entitled “The Philippines at the Crossroads,” it also documented papers workshop proceedings with local scholars and specialists in agrarian reform and agriculture, economics, education, communication, and other social issues, and a recipient of a book award from the Catholic Mass Media Awards.
The last time I saw Joe was some two months ago at the Senate hearing where he presented a position paper on federalism, charter change, and the Bangsamoro law. During our exchange, he said he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to present an issue that had often been overlooked – our legitimate claim to Sabah, a topic which was once taken up during a forum jointly sponsored by Joe’s Council for Foreign Relations and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication.
We shall miss Joe, his passionate advocacy on the issues that were closest to his heart, and his friendship. Farewell Joe, till we meet again. Please say hello for me to your FAO colleague, Andrew, as you share your mutual concerns on rice and the food crisis. Our prayers and condolences to your family, especially to your daughters Roxanne, Annalie, and Bettina.
My e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org