Good People-to-People exchanges and close cooperation between PHL and Fiji recognized during PHL Ambassador's Farewell Calls
Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Her Excellency Virginia H. Benavidez made a farewell call on the President of the Republic of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on 23 July 2015 in Suva, Fiji as she completes her tour of duty.
Ambassador Benavidez thanked President Nailatikau for taking care of around 400 Filipinos in Fiji and the support given to the Philippine Embassy in Wellington and the Philippine Consulate in Suva in its mandate of protecting the rights and promotion of the welfare and interests of overseas Filipinos in Fiji. She mentioned that the Embassy’s Mobile Consular Team was also in Fiji on 23-24 July 2015 to conduct the 44th mobile consular mission of the Philippine Embassy (since October 2011). To date, a total of 18,335 Filipinos comprising 44.58% of the 41,129 members of the Filipino community have benefitted from this first ever mobile consular service throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands and Fiji.
President Nailatikau warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez, who was accompanied by Philippine Honorary Consul Dr. Virgilio de Asa and Vice Consul Glenn Joseph Q. Obach. Further discussions focused on overseas voting and the importance of the participation of the youth in the electoral process, social media and its impact on civil society and government, updates on ASEAN and regional developments, status of the overseas Filipino workers in New Zealand, and the Philippines’ and Fiji’s technical cooperation in the agriculture sector specifically in the development of the coconut industry.
While in Fiji, Ambassador Benavidez also met with Fiji’s Acting Foreign Minister and Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Hon. Jioji Konusi Konrote, where discussions focused on Philippines and Fiji relations as neighbors in the Pacific, disaster preparedness and emergency response, technical cooperation in agriculture, participation in ASEAN and in the United Nations, regional and local politics and participatory democracy in Fiji, and experiences and thoughts on being in the government service.
On a separate occasion, Ambassador Benavidez was also warmly received by Fiji’s Acting Prime Minister, who is also Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Public Enterprises, Public Service and Communications, Hon. Aiyaz Saiyad-Khaiyum. Discussions focused on bilateral and regional relations. Hon. Saiyad-Khaiyum thanked Ambassador Benavidez for the support of the Philippine Government to Fiji and the Pacific Small Island Developing States and acknowledged the contributions made by the Filipinos in Fiji particularly in the fields of medicine, technology and primary industries, and would welcome further technical cooperation between the two countries.
Ambassador Benavidez thanked President Nailatikau, Acting Prime Minister Saiyad-Khaiyum and Acting Foreign Minister Konrote for the warm reception and fruitful meetings, and reiterated appreciation for the local community’s high regard for Filipinos in Fiji. “The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand continues to ensure that the welfare and well-being of the Filipino community are taken care of. That’s how we nurture our people-based relationship – making a practical difference,” Ambassador Benavidez stated.