New Zealand taps Manuel Osmeña, Vicente Lao as honorary consuls
The New Zealand government has appointed Manuel Osmeña and Vicente Lao as Honorary Consuls in Cebu and Mindanao, respectively, Ambassador David Strachan said on Thursday.
The appointments follow the announcement of the new positions by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her visit to Manila in November 2017 for the East Asia Summit.
According to the New Zealand Embassy in Manila, the installation of the two Honorary Consuls stretches potential for increasing business exchanges between New Zealand and the Philippines.
“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 Osmena and Lao, two highly respected and dynamic Filipino businesspersons have agreed to take on these new roles,” Strachan said in a statement.
He added that “through tourism, education and business, people to people links between Cebu and Mindanao and New Zealand are fast growing.”
Strachan said the move “will inject greater momentum into that trend and in the process further enhance friendship between our peoples.”
Osmeña hails from a family of entrepreneurs in Cebu and is the current Group Chairman of the Manny O. Group, with interests in tourism, airport and airline services, wine and hotel business.
Meanwhile, Lao’s various business interests include agriculture, construction, and the import/export sector.
He is currently the Chairman of the Mindanao Business Council and chairs the Board of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Business Council.
The envoy has likewise said that Mindanao is a growing priority for the New Zealand Aid Programme.
As announced in November, New Zealand will provide P126 million to support the restoration of agricultural livelihoods in Mindanao, through the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
“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,” Strachan said.
He added that New Zealand is also keen to explore opportunities for collaboration in Mindanao’s agricultural sector, including in post-harvest technology and biosecurity. (PNA)