MANILA – The body of Ambassador Bernardita “Bernie” Catalla, who succumbed to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) while serving as the Philippine envoy to Lebanon, arrived in Manila on Wednesday afternoon.
The aircraft carrying her remains landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 4 p.m.
In a solemn ceremony, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials led by Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Catalla’s family paid their last respects to the late envoy.
“The DFA may have lost a dedicated servant but her legacy continues,” the agency said.
The envoy’s eldest sister, Magdalena Catalla, received the Philippine flag that draped the casket.
In honor of the late envoy, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez said the flags at all DFA offices in the Philippines and abroad will be flown at half-mast until Friday.
Catalla, a career diplomat for 27 years, is the first Philippine ambassador in active service to die of Covid-19. She passed away on April 2 in a Beirut hospital where she was confined. She was 62.
Last December 2019, the ambassador led the voluntary mass repatriation program of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.
Before her assignment to Lebanon, she was Consul General in Hong Kong, looking over the welfare of hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipinos. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora /PNA – northboundasia.com