By Roy Mabasa
The New Zealand government on Thursday announced the appointments of two prominent Filipino businessmen as its honorary consuls for Cebu and Mindanao.
In a statement, New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines David Strachan named Manuel Osmena as honorary consul for Cebu and Vicente Lao for Mindanao.
“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. Osmena and Mr. Lao, two highly respected and dynamic Filipino businesspersons have agreed to take on these new roles,” Strachan said.
This is the first time that New Zealand appointed honorary consuls in the Philippines.
The designation of Osmena and Lao came following the announcement made by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her visit to Manila in November 2017 for the East Asia Summit.
In the statement, the New Zealand envoy said it recognizes the dynamic economic growth and the potential for increasing business exchanges in both Cebu and Mindanao.
“The appointments of Mr. Osmeña and Mr. Lao as honorary consuls will help deepen the trade and economic partnership with Cebu and Mindanao,” he said.
Strachan noted that tourism, education, business and people to people links between Cebu and Mindanao and New Zealand are fast growing.
“This move will inject greater momentum into that trend and in the process further enhance friendship between our peoples,” the top New Zealand diplomat said.
Osmeña comes from a family of entrepreneurs in Cebu and is the current chair of the Manny O. Group, with interests in tourism, airport and airline services, wine, as well as hotel business. He is also the chairman and founder of HopeNow Philippines Foundation.
On the other hand, Lao’s various business interests include agriculture, construction, and the import/export sector. He is currently the chairman of the Mindanao Business Council and also chairs the board of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Business Council.