Words will never be enough to convey our sadness over the unfortunate maritime accident involving the MV Rena and its detrimental effects on the environment and the community of Tauranga. Like New Zealand, the Philippines greatly values the paramount importance of protecting the environment and the Filipino people fully understand what the people of New Zealand, especially those in the Tauranga communities are going through right now.
The on-going huge operations of Maritime New Zealand and the relevant authorities as well as the active involvement of the affected communities are indeed admirable and exemplary.
Based on the reports of our man on the ground, Philippine Embassy Minister and Consul Giovanni Palec, and the Embassy’s feedback from some members of the Filipino community in Tauranga, the reported negative reactions to the Filipino people there are few and are not reflective of the general sentiments of the public in Tauranga.
We are grateful for the remarks of Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby about the inherent goodness of the Filipinos, some of whom he has worked with in the past and the steps being undertaken to ensure due process in so far as the accountability of the Filipino crew is concerned.
The Philippine Embassy has sent Minister and Consul Giovanni Palec last Wednesday, 12 October and is still in Tauranga right now to look after the welfare of the Filipino crew and the Filipino community as part of the Embassy’s assistance to nationals responsibilities. He has personally met the Filipino crew and Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez has talked to them, who all said that they have been treated kindly and fairly by the New Zealand authorities and that the necessary legal representations have been provided by the shipowner in coordination with their charterer in Tauranga.
We all know that at this time, the case involving the Filipino crew is already with the Court and they are duly represented by their lawyers in the judicial proceedings.
The repatriation of the nineteen (19) Filipino crew members was made after they were interviewed and their statements taken by the relevant authorities of New Zealand.
The Philippine Embassy would like to express its deep appreciation to the Filipino community in Tauranga and other parts of New Zealand for their care, compassion and prayers and for demonstrating the well-known “bayanihan” (togetherness) spirit during these difficult times.