New Zealand has appointed honorary consuls for Cebu and Mindanao to “help deepen the trade and economic partnership” its embassy gas announced.
HopeNow Philippines Foundation chairman Manuel Osmeña was appointed as the honorary consul for Cebu, while Mindanao Business Group chairman Vicente Lao was designated as the honorary consul for Mindanao.
Speaking today (Thursday, May 24) New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines David Strachan said: “The move reflects the growing interest of the New Zealand private sector in opportunities associated with impressive economic growth in Davao and Cebu.
“We are delighted that Mr Osmeña and Mr Lao, two highly respected and dynamic Filipino businesspersons have agreed to take on these new roles.
“The appointments of Mr Osmeña and Mr Lao as honorary consuls will help deepen the trade and economic partnership with Cebu and Mindanao.”
This is the first time that New Zealand has appointed honorary consuls in the Philippines.
He also said that New Zealand business leaders were particularly keen to “explore opportunities” in Mindanao’s agricultural sector.
Aside from the business opportunities, the ambassador added that his government was committed to help people in Mindanao affected by conflict.
Last November, the New Zealand government committed to give 126 million pesos “to support the restoration of agricultural livelihoods in Mindanao”.
A further 18 million pesos will be given via the World Food Programme “to help people affected by the recent conflict in Marawi”, Mr Strachan said.
The Philippine government has announced a 72-billion peso rehabilitation programme for Marawi City, left in ruins after the five-month terrorist siege last year.
“New Zealand welcomes the prospect of the Bangsamoro Basic Law coming into force and is committed to doing what it can to support the peace process in Mindanao”, he said.
The BBL, the proposed measure that would serve as the enabling law of the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014, aims to grant greater autonomy to the muslim majority Bangsamoro region.
This week, President Duterte certified the bill as urgent.