UN honors 3 Filipino staff who died in line of duty

Published May 12, 2021, 9:13 AM

by Jaleen Ramos

The United Nations honored three Filipino staff members who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The three Filipino UN staff members honored were Joanna Abaya, who served at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Dr. Ronald Santos, at the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq; and Maria Luisa Almirol Castillo, at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), The Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on May 11.

Musical performance generously provided by Australian-American violinist, Ms. Adele Anthony, on 6 May 2021. (Photo from NYPM)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres honored the three Filipino UN staff members during the Annual Memorial Service held virtually at the UN headquarters in New York on May 6.

Guterres said 336 UN personnel from 82 member states, including civilian, military, and police, died the in the service of peace or in COVID-19 related circumstances in 2020. This was the highest number of UN personnel fatalities recorded.

“Those dear colleagues were a reflection of the diversity and richness of experience of the United Nations,” the UN Chief said.

The live event, which included a musical tribute by Australian-American violinist Adele Anthony, provided an opportunity for families and colleagues to gather and remember their loved ones.

“Our fallen colleagues will be more than ever united in our hearts and we offer our love and prayers to their families and friends,” said Under-Secretary-General Atul Khare of the UN Department of Operational Support (DOS).

Permanent Representative of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo also paid tribute to the three Filipino UN staff members.

“The Philippines is grateful for the remarkable work of these Filipinos in the United Nations and for their sacrifices. Their legacy and dedication will serve as an inspiration for all of us,” he added.

The names of the late Filipino staff members were read one-by-one alongside their 333 colleagues.

At least 657 Filipinos, including officers and uniformed personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), are currently serving in the UN, both in the headquarters and in the field.