Philippine Ambassador calls on the mayor of ChristChurch, New Zealand
As part of the Philippine Embassy’s continuing networking with local officials to broaden linkages for trade, tourism, investment, business, people-to-people exchange and for greater access and discussions on Filipinos’ welfare and well-being, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez accompanied by Vice Consul Glenn Joseph Obach and Philippine Honorary Consul Peter Wait made a courtesy call on Mayor Lianne Dalziel on 17 February 2014 at the Christchurch City Council Building in Christchurch, New Zealand. Also present at the meeting were Mr. Duncan Sandeman, Civic and International Relations Manager, and Mr. Milinda Peris, Civic and International Relations Coordinator.
Ambassador Benavidez and the Philippine consular officials were warmly welcomed by Mayor Dalziel who was pleased to know that an Embassy team was in Christchurch for its mobile consular services program entitled “The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand: Serving with a Smile, Going the Extra Mile and Reaching Beyond Our Grasp,” which served 630 Filipinos in the area and other parts of the South Island on 13-17 February 2014. Ambassador Benavidez reiterated her appreciation to Mayor Dalziel for her presence in and support for many Filipino community activities, her concern for workers’ welfare and fair treatment in her city and acknowledgement of the positive work ethics, skills and contributions of Filipinos in the health care, rebuild and reconstruction, dairy and other sectors.
Discussions and exchange of views centered on the Filipino workers’ primary concerns such as employment rights, assurance of visa duration and equality at work, as well as upskilling to keep up with the New Zealand standards. Mayor Dalziel stated that migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand and expressed the interest and readiness of her office to extend assistance to and hear from the Filipino workers about their issues, concerns and situations during their work and stay in Christchurch. Ambassador Benavidez shared with Mayor Dalziel possible arrangements being worked out between relevant officials of the Philippines and New Zealand for country specific provisions for the recruitment and deployment of Filipino skilled workers to New Zealand in accordance with the skilled manpower needs of New Zealand and employment policies and practices of both countries.
In reply to Mayor Dalziel’s query on how the Philippines is doing after super typhoon Haiyan, Ambassador Benavidez shared the latest developments in the multi-stakeholder, multi-dimensional and inclusive build back better and safer reconstruction and rehabilitation in Central Philippines and the creation of the first ever web based Foreign Aid Transparency Hub or FAiTH where donations, assistance and aid, in cash and in-kind, from partner countries and multilateral organizations may now be monitored by the public. This is the Philippine Government’s response to the growing need for transparency and accountability in the management and provision of humanitarian assistance. Mayor Dalziel thanked Ambassador Benavidez for the updates about the momentum in the on-going rehabilitation and reconstruction of the typhoon devastated areas and said that it is truly important to let the people know that the donors’ contributions and financial assistance reach the intended recipients and beneficiaries. Ambassador Benavidez also informed Mayor Dalziel of her courtesy call on Prime Minister John Key on 21 January 2014 to convey the best wishes of President Benigno S. Aquino III and reiterate the Philippine Government’s and the Filipino People’s heartfelt gratitude to the Government and People of New Zealand for the generous and gratifying groundswell of sympathy, support and solidarity after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged Central Philippines last year.
She thanked Mayor Dalziel for the warm reception and fruitful meeting and reiterated appreciation on her and the local people’s high regard for Filipinos in Christchurch and the Canterbury region, the Mayor’s Office’s open door for the Filipino community in Christchurch and collaboration with relevant authorities for migrant workers’ support and assistance.