New Zealand visit of the Secretary of Labor and Employment of the Philippines boosts bilateral relations
Honorable Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), visited New Zealand on 17 to 20 September 2015, and led the Philippine delegation composed of Mr. Nicon Fameronag, Undersecretary, DOLE, Mr. Hans Leo Cacdac, Administrator, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Ms. Rebecca Calzado, Administrator, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Mr. Saul de Vries, Director, International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), and Atty. Rodolfo Sabulao, Labor Attaché, Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia.
In Wellington, Secretary Baldoz, together with her Philippine delegation, accompanied by Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez and Vice Consul Glenn Joseph Obach, had a meeting with Hon. Michael Woodhouse at the New Zealand Parliament. Hon. Woodhouse is Minister of Immigration, Minister of Police, and Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety. Also present in the meeting were Mr. Steve McGill, Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ms. Joanne Hughes, General Manager, Labour and Immigration Policy, MBIE, Mr. Michael Hobby, Acting Manager, International Strategy, MBIE, Mr. George Mason, General Manager, Labour Inspectorate, MBIE, Mr. Steve Watson, Manager, Business and Operations Support, Labour Inspectorate, MBIE, Ms. Lauren Deslandes, Private Secretary (Immigration), Office of the Hon. Michael Woodhouse, and Ms. Elizabeth Gerard, Private Secretary (Workplace Relations and Safety), Office of the Hon. Michael Woodhouse.
After this meeting, the Memorandum of Arrangement (MOA) on the Principles and Controls on the Recruitment and Protection of Filipino Workers in New Zealand was signed by Secretary Baldoz and Minister Woodhouse, witnessed by both Philippine and New Zealand sides. A New Zealand Government press release on the landmark labor cooperation agreement may be found here: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/nz-%E2%80%93-filipino-arrangement-migrant-workers.
In the evening, Minister Woodhouse hosted a welcome dinner for Secretary Baldoz, attended by both the Philippine and New Zealand delegations, at the Bowen Room, Bolton Hotel. Ambassador Benavidez also hosted an after-dinner coffee to welcome Secretary Baldoz and the rest of the Philippine delegation at the “Ang Bahay” (Ambassador’s Residence) and introduced the Philippine Embassy Team to her and her delegation.
In Christchurch, Secretary Baldoz and Minister Woodhouse received a briefing and overview of the Labour Inspectorate and Immigration operations at the MBIE. They were met by Ms. Janine Parsons, INZ Area Manager and Stuart Lumsden, Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager. Ambassador Benavidez, together with Philippine Honorary Consul General in Auckland Atty. Paulo Garcia, incoming Philippine Honorary Consul General in Christchurch Mr. Roger Bridge and Vice Consul Obach, also attended the meeting. Also in attendance were MBIE officials from Wellington, Mr. Hobby, Mr. Mason and Mr. Watson.
Secretary Baldoz and Minister Woodhouse were also met by Ms. Leann Watson, General Manager, Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC) and Ms. Lana Hart, Skilled Migrant Business Services Advisor, CECC. They attended a roundtable with members of the CECC, which included a presentation on “Philippine Migration Management” by POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac. In attendance were Mr. Richard Gibb, Director, HRS Construction and President of Canterbury Master Builders, Mr. Grant Cameron, Senior HR Manager, Hamilton Jet, Mr. Jay Christie, Operations Manager, Transfield, Ms. Nicola Robertson, HR Manager, Connetics, and Ms. Alex Thorpe, Event Coordinator, CECC.
Accompanied by Ambassador Benavidez, Secretary Baldoz called on Her Worship Lianne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch at the Christchurch City Council Building. Then the group proceeded to the nearby Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) where a presentation was provided by Mr. Baden Ewart, Deputy Chief Executive, CERA. After the presentation, the group was accompanied by Mr. Ewart and Ms. Linda Paterson, Visits and Relations Advisor, Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) to the Tour of the City Rebuild. At the end of the Tour, Secretary Baldoz led the laying of flowers at the CTV site where 115 people, including 11 Filipinos, lost their lives when the CTV Building collapsed during the February 2011 earthquake.
While in Christchurch, the Philippine delegation also went on a farm visit to M & T Holmes Ltd. in Rakaia, owned by Matthew and Trudy Holmes, where Secretary Baldoz met Mr. Neil Molina, a Best Farm Manager of the Year awardee.
After the farm visit, Secretary Baldoz and the Philippine delegation spent “An Afternoon with the Filipino Community in Christchurch and the South Island,” at the Hei Hei Community Centre. The event was attended by Filipinos in the Canterbury region and the nearby cities and towns of the South Island.
Secretary Baldoz and the members of her delegation thanked Ambassador Benavidez and the Philippine Embassy for the warm reception and gracious hospitality extended to them. Appreciation was also expressed to the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, Visits and Ceremonial Office, led by Ms. Vanessa Knippenberg-Donaghy, with Mr. Jay Tapley as Visits and Events Organizer for the Wellington leg, for organizing the comprehensive programme for Secretary Baldoz’ first ever and highly successful Official Visit to New Zealand.