Assistance to Nationals
- Published on 30 April 2013
In line with the third pillar of Philippine Foreign Policy highlighting the Department’s mandate and commitment to protect and promote the interests and welfare of Filipinos abroad, the Embassy has set out the following strategies to deliver prompt, proactive and protective services to more than 36,000 Filipinos throughout the North and South Islands in New Zealand:
- Mobile consular services in various cities in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands
- Enjoining Filipinos to exercise their sacred right to suffrage through the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV)
- Intensive campaign for Philippine Citizenship Reacquisition/Retention (RA 9225)
- Networking with Filipino organizations and groups for the setting up of disaster preparedness programs and collaborating with their respective areas’ agencies and authorities in emergency management and disaster response and preparedness
- Assistance to nationals (ATN) services responding immediately to requests ranging from financial support, repatriation, legal advice to employment and student status
Called “The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand: Serving with a Smile, Going the Extra Mile and Reaching Beyond Our Grasp,” mobile consular services started upon the arrival of Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez in September 2011. Since then, these outreach missions continue to be a milestone event and a game changer in concretely manifesting the Philippine government’s priority and concern for the overseas Filipinos’ welfare, protection and interests. As in all mobile consular services conducted throughout New Zealand, the Filipino community members unfailingly and profusely reiterate their deep gratitude to the Philippine Government through the Philippine Embassy for rendering the much needed and sought after consular services right where they are residing and working as these save them considerable amount of money, time and resources considering that it is extremely costly, inconvenient and difficult to go all the way to Wellington.
The mobile consular missions highlight the Philippine Government’s priority and concern for their welfare and well-being as well as a distinct recognition of the vital roles and contributions of the global Filipinos to nation-building in the Philippines and New Zealand. In bringing its services on site and directly to the Filipino community, the Philippine Embassy is also able to meet the Filipino communities and thank them for their support and cooperation, update them on the positive economic and other developments in the Philippines, enjoin them to participate in nation-building through the overseas absentee voting process and dual citizenship acquisition, and reiterate the deep appreciation and recognition of New Zealand’s government and people for their skills, talents, sacrificial work ethics and services, and ability to integrate themselves well with local communities throughout the country.
As of the first quarter of 2013, the Philippine Embassy mobile consular team has processed e-passports, NBI applications, notarial documentation, dual citizenship acquisition and registration of births and marriages to 566 Filipinos in Taupo and its surrounding areas in the North Island, and in Queenstown and its neighbouring areas in the South Island.
As of December 2012, the Embassy conducted a total of twelve (12) mobile consular missions for Filipinos in New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands and the Independent State of Samoa. There were a total of nine (9) mobile consular outreaches within New Zealand with the Embassy team going to Auckland on four separate mobile missions in the months of January, May, September and November, while two mobile services were held in Christchurch in January and December, and one each in Rotorua, Dunedin and Whangarei conducted in April, August, and September, respectively. The Embassy also conducted a mobile consular missions in Fiji in April, in the Cook Islands in September, and in the Independent State of Samoa in November. In 2012, mobile consular services were extended to 3,427 passport applicants, 143 NBI clearance applicants, 141 notarials, and 127 reports of birth and marriages.
For the upcoming 2013 Senatorial and Party List elections, the Embassy simultaneously facilitated the OAV registration in the mobile consular services conducted in several cities in New Zealand and Cook Islands. As part of its strategy, the Embassy requested the applicants to register for OAV before the processing of their documents for consular services.
From November 2011 to October 2012, the Embassy processed 1,995 registrants. The number of registrants has surpassed the Embassy’s goal of 1,200 registrants. This marked increase is a result of the Embassy’s intensified registration campaigns to all Overseas Absentee Voters all over New Zealand and the Pacific island countries of Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji. Posters and information materials were distributed to Filipino organization leaders and various Filipino business establishments all over New Zealand. Likewise, advisories on OAV were also posted at Embassy’s website and Facebook. The Embassy undertook a total of nine (9) mobile overseas voter’s registration from January to October 2012 during the Embassy’s consular mobile services in various places to reach overseas Filipinos who are located far from the Embassy.
To date, there are 4,493 Overseas Absentee Voters registered at the Embassy (4,381 from all over New Zealand, 30 from Fiji, 4 from Tonga, 5 from Samoa and 73 from Cook Islands).
The Embassy processed and approved 104 applicants from January to December 2012, an increase from previous year’s number of 101. This is a result of this Post’s information campaign on the advantages of being a dual citizen with the tagline, “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain. You have the Best of Both Worlds.” Embassy has also been encouraging Filipino migrants to invest in the Philippines, spend their retirement back home and have a say in the election of good leaders for the country. Applicants with approved applications were given a choice to take their Oath of Allegiance in areas where the Embassy holds mobile consular services instead of travelling to Wellington for the Oath Taking Ceremony.
As part of the 12 mobile consular services in various parts of New Zealand, the Embassy always met with the Filipino organizations and groups, and discussed with them the basic features of a disaster preparedness plan following the contents of the Department’s disaster and evacuation plans, and stressed upon them the importance of formulating their respective plans in close coordination with the local authorities and designated area coordinators and area support officers who are the main focal persons to keep track of the Filipinos in their area and the contact points for the Embassy and relevant lead agencies in the local communities.
Since New Zealand is a country which has experience and expertise in emergency response and disaster management, the Embassy has cooperated with the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (WREMO) which conducted a Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Seminar/Workshop for Filipino community members who volunteered as Area Coordinators and Support Team Members for the Greater Wellington Area on 10 November 2012 at the Civil Defence Office, Thorndon, Wellington. Ambassador Benavidez, the Embassy officers and staff and twenty (20) volunteer area coordinators from Wellington, Masterton, Kapiti Coast, and Levin attended the seminar. Ambassador Benavidez made a presentation of the Embassy’s contingency plan format and oriented the group on their roles as area coordinators and team support members, explaining the flow of coordination and communications with the Embassy and the New Zealand Emergency Response Offices in the event of disasters following the evacuation/emergency response plan of the Department. Ms. Kathryn Nankivell, Advisor of the WREMO, conducted a lecture on how to prepare for emergencies and on the services provided by the WREMO and the Resilience Office of the Wellington City Council.
Through the Embassy’s newly laid out website containing links to important different government agencies that provide public services, updates on requirements and procedures for each consular service being rendered by the Embassy, information on Filipino groups and organizations helping in the settling down and adjustment of newly arrived Filipinos, uploading of immediate advisories on consular and ATN services, maintenance of a 24/7 mobile hotline for urgent or emergency cases, the Embassy is now easy to reach anytime and any day. The Embassy also hands out pocket-sized paper slips containing the Embassy’s address, contact numbers and names of officials and personnel. It also maintains a Facebook account to continue maximizing accessibility to the public.
The Filipino Community leaders and members as well as New Zealand social services representatives continue to report any information or act on behalf of the OFW caught in emergency situation. The Embassy is continuously collaborating with Filipino Community groups to collect data on all Filipinos under the Embassy’s jurisdiction. This activity is conducted during the Embassy’s mobile consular services assuring the Filipinos that the Embassy is always open and available to any request for assistance and emergencies.
With its increasing networking with central, provincial and local government agencies, such as the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Immigration, City Councils, Multicultural Councils, Settlement Support Services, Community Law Centres, Women and Youth Centres, local police and other government authorities and non-government organizations and entities and with Filipino communities throughout New Zealand, the Embassy is able to more effectively and efficiently coordinate with the various stakeholders for the resolution of ATN cases and for the benefit of the Filipinos.
As assurance of the Embassy’s care, concern and commitment for the welfare and interest of Filipinos in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, Ambassador Benavidez reiterates, “Uppermost in our hearts and minds are the words and example of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. Del Rosario who aptly stated that the men and women of the Department of Foreign Affairs, in any time zone, must always serve with a smile, go the extra mile and reach beyond our grasp."
The Philippine Embassy may be reached through the following:
Tel. Nos.: (+644) 8903741; (+644) 8903742; (+644) 8903744
Fax No. (+644) 8903740
Cellphone (Hotline 24/7): (+64) 022 074 6517
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