03 December 2013 - Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez presented her credentials to His Majesty King Tupou VI, the Head of State of the Kingdom of Tonga on November 06 in Nuku’alofa. Upon arrival of Ambassador Benavidez at the Royal Palace, the Guard of Honour paid a national salute while the Philippine National Anthem was played and the Philippine Flag was hoisted. The Presentation of Credentials ceremony took place in the Throne Room of the Royal Palace, where Ambassador Benavidez presented her Letter of Credence and the Letter of Recall of her predecessor before His Majesty King Tupou VI.
In her remarks, Ambassador Benavidez conveyed the greetings of President Benigno S. Aquino III to His Majesty King Tupou VI and the best wishes of the Government and People of the Republic of the Philippines to the Government and People of the Kingdom of Tonga. Ambassador Benavidez highlighted the close and friendly relations between the Philippines and Tonga at the bilateral, regional and multilateral arenas and the importance of the growing people-to-people ties and opportunities for greater interaction and understanding between Filipinos and Tongans. The presence of an increasing number of Filipinos engaged in various professions, employment in the areas of tourism, fisheries and the tailoring and services sector in Tonga strengthen the people-based relationship and deepen the reservoir of goodwill and understanding between the two countries and two peoples. The Philippines deeply appreciates the hospitality and recognition accorded to Filipinos living and working in Tonga and the continued cooperation and support extended by His Majesty’s Government for their welfare and well-being. “We’ve had high level meetings between our countries as well as in the context of the United Nations, the Pacific Islands Forum and other regional and international bodies. We deeply appreciate the support extended by Your Majesty’s Government to the candidatures of the Philippines in various international organizations. As active participants in the Pacific Islands Forum, the Philippines and Tonga are natural partners in collectively pursuing cooperation in such vital areas as global sustainable development, marine sources management and climate change,” Ambassador Benavidez stated.
His Majesty King Tupou VI warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez to Tonga and received her Letter of Credence from President Aquino accrediting her as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Kingdom of Tonga and conveyed his greetings to President Aquino and the Government and People of the Philippines. During the audience following the ceremony, His Majesty King Tupou VI and Ambassador Benavidez talked about the warm relations between the Kingdom of Tonga and the Philippines as neighbors and partners in the Asia Pacific region and agreed that people-to-people ties are the core of the bilateral and regional relationship. Both countries will continue to build on this strong foundation of friendship and partnership and to work closely together to fulfill the collective vision for greater peace, progress and prosperity in the region and the world.
Prior to the presentation of credentials at the Royal Palace, Ambassador Benavidez met Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Honorable Samiu Vaipulu, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Nuku’alofa on November 05, during which they discussed bilateral relations of the Philippines and Tonga as partners that look after the interests of the Pacific region. Ambassador Benavidez also met with Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms. Ilaisipa Alipate. She also attended the Dinner hosted by Hon. Vaipulu together with the Ambassadors of Chile and Israel and the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom and senior officials of the Kingdom of Tonga on November 05.
After her meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Vaipulu, Ambassador Benavidez called on the Lord Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Fakafanua, at the Legislative Assembly Conference Room, who acknowledged Filipinos in Tonga as very good workers. The Honorable Speaker expressed hope that the Tongan and the Philippine governments will be able to revitalize its relationship. This meeting was followed by Ambassador Benavidez’ call on His Excellency Dr. Kazuchika Hamuro, Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Tonga.
On November 06, Ambassador Benavidez also called on His Excellency Mr. Mark Talbot, High Commissioner of New Zealand to the Kingdom of Tonga, and His Excellency Mr. Brett Aldam, High Commissioner of Australia to the Kingdom of Tonga. END