Ambassador Bernardita Catalla presents former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri with Philippine-crafted tokens on Feb. 7, 2018.

The Philippines Ambassador to Lebanon died on Thursday from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“With deep sadness, the Department of Foreign Affairs announces the untimely demise on April 2, 2020, of Bernardita Catalla, Philippine ambassador to Lebanon, from complications arising from COVID-19,” the DFA said in a statement.

According to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Catalla died at 12:30 a.m. in the Beirut hospital where she was confined.

“I offered 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 to say goodbye on March 9,” Locsin said on Twitter.

A career diplomat for 27 years, Catalla served in key posts such as Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and was passport director, delivering frontline service to millions of Filipinos, the DFA said.

Prior to her assignment in Lebanon, she was consul general in Hong Kong, looking over the welfare of hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipinos.

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