PHL Ambassador inducts the officers of the Association of Filipino tradesmen in New Zealand
As the Philippine Embassy continues to engage with and join the Filipino community in various milestone events, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez inducted into office the Managing Committee of the newly formed and registered Association of Filipino Tradesmen (AFTNZ) in New Zealand on 30 November 2014 at the Air New Zealand Sports and Social Club in Christchurch. Philippine Labour Attaché Atty. Rodolfo Sabulao and Philippine Honorary Consul Peter Wait were also present on this significant event. The AFTNZ’s officers are Mr. Michael John Quina, Chairman, Mr. Junbert Dagaas, Vice-Chairman, Mr. Ryan Jan Cuevas, Secretary, Mr. Stephen John Cuison, Treasurer, Mr. Alcoreen Abela, Auditor, Mr. Jay De Jesus, Committee, Sports and Events, Mr. Bonifacio Boadilla, Committee, Sports and Events, Mr. Manuel Lansangan, Committee, Sports and Events and Mr. Michael Angelo Mercurio, Committee, Registration and Membership. Their Advisors are Mr. Sam Bruzo and Mr. Alfie Alojado, Jr., Chairman of the Canterbury Philippines Assistance Group. As presented by Mr. Michael John Quina, the AFTNZ’s vision is “to become a premier community of Filipino tradesmen working for New Zealand and its mission is to unite and inspire all Filipino tradesmen working in New Zealand through the advocacy and protection of working rights and responsibilities, continuous training and development to provide quality workmanship at all times, promotion of healthy lifestyle through sports and active involvement in civic and community activities in Christchurch and in the entire New Zealand.”
Ambassador Benavidez congratulated the officers, members and advisers of AFTNZ for their tireless efforts, exemplary dedication and unwavering commitment to harness the talents, expertise and skills of the Filipino tradesmen especially those engaged in the long term rebuild and reconstruction of Christchurch and pursue their clear vision and single focus for their upskilling, development and empowerment and building a stronger sense of community among them. She pointed out that the number of Filipinos in the rebuild occupations in the Canterbury region has grown considerably to 1,811 as of November this year, up by 50.29% from March 2014. “The formation of AFTNZ is indeed opportune and timely as Filipino tradesmen are highly appreciated and preferred in the rebuild and reconstruction of Christchurch and they are expected to grow in numbers in the immediate future,” Ambassador Benavidez stated. She encouraged them to continue excelling in their work, focus on their priority of helping their families and providing for the education of their children and keeping the strong faith in GOD, values of family, positive work ethics, sacrificial service and the renowned Filipino spirit of “bayanihan” (togetherness and helping each other) alive in their hearts and minds. Ambassador Benavidez also highlighted the importance of connecting themselves with the local community and networking with the local authorities, agencies, organizations, settlement support groups, Filipino community groups and other stakeholders for mutual benefit and closer collaboration. Philippine Labour Attaché Atty. Rodolfo Sabulao who is based at the Philippine Embassy in Canberra and likewise accredited in New Zealand spoke before the AFTNZ officers, members and guests and highlighted the vital role of the organization and the contributions of Filipino tradesmen to both the Philippines and New Zealand. He provided a comprehensive overview of the social protection mechanisms, assistance, roles and responsibilities that the Philippine Embassy, in close coordination with his Office, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) are carrying out for the welfare and well-being of the Filipinos in New Zealand the Pacific island states under the Embassy’s diplomatic and consular jurisdiction, namely, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Cook Islands. Labour Attaché Sabulao exhorted the Filipinos to continue to work hard, avail of training opportunities and learn as much as they can in their respective jobs for their own advancement, for the benefit of their families and loved ones and for their good relationship with their employers, success of their companies and the favourable reputation of the Philippines and the Filipino people.
Ambassador Benavidez and Labour Attaché Sabulao had an extensive dialogue and interaction with the AFTNZ officers, advisors and members and other Filipinos regarding the status and action taken on the mounting complaints on payment of excessive placement fees and other concerns and issues, the importance of collaboration with New Zealand authorities such as the Immigration and Labour Inspectorate and other relevant agencies and the Philippines’ DOLE and POEA, the cooperative arrangements the governments of the Philippines and New Zealand are working out for the Filipino workers’ benefit and the continuing assistance being rendered by the Philippine Embassy in New Zealand and the Office of the Labor Attaché in Canberra for the promotion and protection of the Filipino workers’ interests and rights. Regular visits will continue to be made and a forum will be organized early next year among the local officials, Filipino workers and other members of the Filipino community and other stakeholders for continuing dialogue and interaction.
AFTNZ Chairman Quina thanked Ambassador Benavidez and Labour Attaché Sabulao for gracing the induction of officers and for their continued and sustained support and assistance for the Filipino workers in Christchurch. He reiterated the collective resolve of AFTNZ to pursue its purposes, plans and priorities as they link up and collaborate with relevant agencies, organizations and groups in Christchurch and other parts of New Zealand.