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PHL embassy denies envoy made anti-union remarks in NZ

The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand on Friday denied accusations that Philippine Ambassador Virginia Benavidez had made anti-union remarks during a recent event there.

“Ambassador Benavidez never advised the Filipino workers not to join Unions,” the embassy said in an emailed statement.

The embassy issued the statement after FIRST Union accused Benavidez of “interfering” in New Zealand's internal affairs when she allegedly advised Filipinos there not to join unions.

Benavidez allegedly gave the advice during a speech to Filipinos invited by the Canterbury Pilipino Assistance Group (CPAG).

According to the Philippine embassy, what Benavidez said was for Filipinos there to consult with their employers first before heading to government support groups such as the embassy, Immigration New Zealand, Members of Parliament, and other local support groups.

The statement also clarified that should Filipinos choose to apply to unions, they are allowed to do so.

It also denied that Benavidez singled out the New Zealand Herald in her statement, saying if relevant authorities are approached, their cases would be resolved before they are aired over the media.

Alfie Alojado Jr., CPAG president, stood behind the ambassador by producing affirming statements with his officers.

"Alojado, who organized the meeting and invited Ambassador Benavidez... firmly stated that Ambassador Benavidez did not make any anti-union statements," the Philippine embassy said.

Alojado and his staff also informed Benavidez that FIRST Union did not have a representative during the talk. — Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News