PH Ambassador to Lebanon succumbs to COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ top diplomat to Lebanon has succumbed to complications from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
In a statement, the DFA said Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Bernardita Catalla passed away on Thursday.
“With deep sadness, the Department of Foreign Affairs announces the untimely demise on 2 April 2020, of Ambassador Bernardita Catalla, Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon, from complications arising from COVID-19,” the DFA said.
Catalla worked in the foreign service for 27 years as a career diplomat.
“Service to the country has been the hallmark of Ambassador Catalla’s distinguished foreign service career,” the DFA said.
Catalla served in key posts in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
She also served as a passport director “where she delivered frontline service to millions of Filipinos,” the DFA said.
Prior to her assignment in Lebanon, Catalla was the consul general in Hong Kong, “looking over the welfare of hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipinos.”
She also spearheaded the voluntary mass repatriation program of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut since December 2019.
“Bernie, as Ambassador Catalla was fondly called, has always lent a helping hand, to her family, friends and colleagues,” the DFA said.
“Her ever ready smile and infectious laughter may have been extinguished but her dedication to our country will always be there as a guiding light for all members of the Philippine foreign service,” it added.
In a tweet, DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. remembered the last time he saw Catalla.
“Amb. Bernardita M. Catalla passed away at 12:30 a.m. in the Beirut hospital where she was confined,” Locsin said.
Amb. Bernardita M. Catalla passed away at 12:30 a.m. in the Beirut hospital where she was confined. I extended her for a great job in a difficult post. I promised her Paris so she'd hang on. But she just laughed, "Now I must learn French." She saw me to say goodbye last March 9.
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) April 2, 2020
“I extended her for a great job in a difficult post. I promised her Paris so she’d hang on. But she just laughed, ‘Now I must learn French.’ She saw me to say goodbye last March 9,” he added.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.