MANILA — Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Bernardita Catalla has passed away due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced 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,” it said in a statement.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Catalla passed away at 12:30 a.m. in the Beirut hospital where she was confined. She was 62.
“Ambassador Bernie Catalla’s remains will be received with an honor guard and I am putting forward a nomination for Gawad Mabini and Sikatuna. Not that she needs more honor than the profound regret and mourning of a grateful service, government, and I hope nation,” Locsin said over Twitter.
Recalling his past engagements with the envoy, Locsin said, “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 say goodbye last March 9,” he said.
Catalla, a career diplomat for 27 years, had served in key posts, such as Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, and was Passport Director.
Before her assignment in Lebanon, she was Consul General in Hong Kong. Since December 2019, she spearheaded the voluntary mass repatriation program of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.
“Bernie, as Ambassador Catalla was fondly called, has always lent a helping hand, to her family, friends, and colleagues. 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,” the DFA said. (PNA)