THE country’s envoy to Lebanon has died due to complications from the coronavirus disease 2019, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
Ambassador to Lebanon Bernardita L. Catalla, who served the Philippines as a career diplomat for 27 years, died on April 2, the agency said in a statement.
Before being assigned to Lebanon, she took key positions in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Jakarta and was a passport director, it said.
Ms. Catalla in December led the repatriation of 64 distressed Filipino workers overseas.
“Bernie, as Ambassador Catalla was fondly called, has always lent a helping hand to her family, friends and colleagues,” 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.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L Locsin, Jr. and Undersecretary Brigido D. Dulay both paid tribute to the late ambassador, who was on the frontline of repatriation efforts amid tensions in the Middle East last year.
Ms. Catalla’s remains will be received by an honor guard, Mr. Locsin said, adding that he would nominate her for a Mabini and Sikatuna award. “Not that she needs more honor than the profound regret and mourning of a grateful service, government, and I hope nation,” he added.
The coronavirus disease 2019 has sickened almost a million people worldwide, killing more than 47,000, according to the Worldometer website, citing data from various sources including the World Health Organization. — Charmaine A. Tadalan