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Philippine envoy to Lebanon dies of COVID-19 complications

The Philippines' top diplomat to Lebanon has died of coronavirus disease, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

"With deep sadness, the DFA announces the untimely demise on 2 April 2020, of Ambassador Bernardita Catalla, Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon, from complications arising from COVID-19," a department statement said.

Catalla is the first senior career diplomat in active service to have died in relation to the deadly respiratory disease, which was first detected in China in late December and has already killed tens of thousand across the world.



A career diplomat for almost 30 years, Catalla, 62, has served in key posts like Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and was Passport Director where she delivered frontline service to millions of Filipinos, the DFA said.

Prior to her assignment in Lebanon, she was Consul General in Hong Kong.

While in Lebanon, Catalla spearheaded the voluntary mass repatriation program for distressed Filipinos there.

"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 be always be there as a guiding light for all members of the Philippine foreign service," the DFA said. — RSJ, GMA News