‘Congen Bernie’ succumbs to COVID-19 complications

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The Filipino migrant community mourned the loss of Ambassador Bernardita Catalla, the Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon who previously served as consulate general in Hong Kong.  The Department of Foreign Affairs said she died on April 2 from complications arising from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“Prior to her assignment in Lebanon, she was Consul General in Hong Kong, looking over the welfare of hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipinos,” the DFA said. “Since December 2019, she spearheaded the voluntary mass repatriation program of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.”

Catalla served as Consul General in Hong Kong from 2014-2017.

“She was a dedicated public servant who gave everything to improve the lives of others,” current Consulate General Raly Tejada said. “Her legacy to Hong Kong and its Filipino community is immeasurable. Our country lost a bright light in public service.”

Catalla was here when the Occupy Central movement happened.

Her last major initiative in Hong Kong before she left for Lebanon was the presentation of ethnic minorities which was part of the celebration of the 20th founding anniversary of the special administrative region.

“We remember the willingness of ‘Congen Bernie’ to engage with progressive organisations in Hong Kong, and in coming up with measures to make HK OFWs’ transactions at the Philippine Consulate more inconvenient,” the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) said.