Republic of the Philippines

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Philippine Ambassador presents credentials to the President of the Republic of Fiji

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Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez presented credentials to His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President of the Republic of Fiji on 10 September 2013. She was accompanied by accompanied by Consul Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa and the Philippine Honorary Consul to Fiji, Dr. Virgilio de Asa.

The Presentation of Credentials ceremony took place at the President’s office. Ambassador Benavidez presented her Letter of Credence and the Letter of Recall of her predecessor before President Nailatikau.

In her remarks, Ambassador Benavidez conveyed the greetings of President Benigno S. Aquino III to President Nailatikau and the best wishes of the Government and People of the Republic of the Philippines to the Government and People of the Republic of Fiji. She noted that the Philippines values its friendship with Fiji which has been a strong supporter of the Philippines in various international fora and reiterated appreciation for the valuable support extended by the Government of Fiji to the Philippines’ candidatures. She pointed out that the Philippines will continue to work with Fiji as a fellow Asia-Pacific member in the United Nations and as current G-77 Chair in advancing issues of mutual interest and collectively pursuing cooperation in such vital areas as climate change, disaster risk reduction, and poverty eradication. At this important chapter in the political history of Fiji, the Philippines expresses its support for Fiji’s progress in its democratization efforts as reflected by the unveiling of the country’s new constitution in August this year, President Nailatikau’s assent to the new constitution last 6 September and Fiji’s commitment to hold elections by September 2014. The President said that to date 54o,000 voters have been registered out of 850,000 total population. Fiji has a young population typical of Pacific countries.

Ambassador Benavidez highlighted the fact that the Philippine Government attaches great importance to people-to-people ties and interaction at all levels. The presence of a growing number of Filipinos engaged in various professions, and businesses and employed in the private sector and international organizations in Fiji strengthen the people based relationship between the Philippines and Fiji and deepen the reservoir of goodwill and understanding between the Filipinos and Fijians. The Philippines deeply appreciates the hospitality and recognition accorded to Filipinos living and working in Fiji and the continued cooperation and support extended by the Government of Fiji for their welfare and well-being. The Philippines will continue to build on this strong foundation of friendship with Fiji and to work hand-in-hand in advancing bilateral trade and economic partnership, human resources development and technical cooperation and in fulfilling our collective vision for greater peace, progress and prosperity in our region and the world.

At the end of her speech, Ambassador Benavidez stated that in carrying out her mission in Fiji, she shall endeavor to nurture and strengthen Philippines-Fiji relations within the framework of the two countries’ mutual interests, shared goals, and inter-dependence and thanked President Nailatikau, the Government and People of Fiji for the invaluable support and cooperation as friends, neighbours and partners. President Nailatikau warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez to Fiji and received her Letter of Credence from President Aquino accrediting her as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Republic of Fiji and conveyed his best wishes for a happy and successful mission. He requested Ambassador Benavidez to convey to President Aquino, the Government and People of the Philippines his warmest wishes for their continued well-being, peace and prosperity.

After the presentation of credentials, President Nailatikau spoke with Ambassador Benavidez on various subjects, especially those relating to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Fiji’s new constitution. The President stated that Fiji and the Philippines have always worked together in the United Nations (UN), particularly on matters relating to the Law of the Sea. Filipinos, he stated, have set high standards in the tasks that they do in the UN. President Nailatikau also stated that the new constitution is a very strong document, “a living document, one that puts emphasis on youth participation” and grants each Fijian a vote in the elections before the end of September 2014.

Ambassador Benavidez, in turn, shared with President Nailatikau that the Philippines considers UNCLOS a significant and important instrument for settling disputes amicably in accordance with international law and is the equalizer for rules based and peaceful resolution of regional conflicts, especially those relating to maritime domain and entitlements. She also noted that Fiji will be very busy in the next few months with its roadmap to democracy under the new constitution.

Ambassador Benavidez also met with the Republic of Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.E. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola during which they discussed the framework for advancing key areas of cooperation between the Philippines and Fiji. This was followed by Ambassador Benavidez’s call on H.E. Reteta Rimon, the High Commissioner of Kiribati and the Deputy Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Fiji.

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