Belgian envoy vows to champion child rights
BACOLOD CITY–The ambassador of Belgium to the Philippines vowed to help the marginalized children and juvenile delinquents in Bacolod and Negros through programs and projects that uphold their rights and give them a chance for a better life.
Ambassador Michel Goffin said on Thursday that promoting and protecting the rights of the child has been one of the commitments of Belgium, and that is why it has allocated 500,000 euros or R31 million to the Philippines to push those rights.
Goffin was in Bacolod to unveil a plaque at the Virlanie’s Open Day Center.
Virlanie is a Belgian non-government, non-profit organization that helps children who are poor, at risk, abused, and in conflict with the law in Manila and Negros.
He said that the allocation will only last for four years but he had pledges from Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., and Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia to continue the program.
“R31M is very precious money and it came from the taxpayers of Belgium, and we want to make sure that it is used for good purposes,” the ambassador said, adding that Verlanie is “making miracles” as in implementing the program.
He said he had visited some areas in Bacolod to see how the children being helped by Virlanie were faring.
“The project should be sustained as there is no reason to stop it as there is already a center to house the kids,” he said.
“I can go back to Belgium and say that your money was intended to a good project,” he said.
Before the unveiling of the plaque, Goffin met with Marañon at the provincial capitol here through a courtesy visit with Johanna Vandamme, General Secretary of a non-government organization in Belgium, and Dominique Lemay, president and founder of Virlanie Foundation, Inc.
They talked about the organic advocacy of the provincial government and the province’s rich source of manpower, from which Goffin is particularly interested in.
The ambassador was also impressed with the Negros’ environmental conservation effort.
He will also be attending the groundbreaking for Virlanie’s project, Food Always in the Home (FAITH), basically an organic farm for young adults with disabilities located in Bago City.
The ambassador said he will definitely come back to Negros to discuss a possible partnership towards work opportunities for skilled workers.
Negros Occidental Tourism Officer Cristine Mansinares joined the meeting and presented the tourism attractions in the province.