Belgian envoy visits Siquijor
by T. Richard T. Leduna/RA Calibo
Cebu City (11 April) -- Belgian Ambassador to the Philippines His Excellency Gregoire Vardakis visited the province of Siquijor recently and toured various Belgian Integrated Agrarian Reform Program (BIARSP)-funded projects of the Department of Agriarian Reform (DAR).
Now on its third and last phase, BIARSP has provided the province with development assistance of more than P14 million since 1998 that has funded infrastructure projects, basic social and health services and various skills enhancement training to Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) here, Information Officer Richard Leduna reported.
Health and education services include among others, rehabilitation of school buildings, provision of instructional materials and equipment and supplemental feeding to school children and pre-schoolers.
Over and above costs of development assistance BIARSP has also provided direct interventions like vehicles and office equipment to the DAR office and selected cooperatives to ensure that development programs and projects are effectively and efficiently delivered to the beneficiaries, Leduna also said.
DAR is a member of the Anti-Hunger Task Force that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has created to work closely with faith-based organizations to widen the reach of the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program (AHMP) among the poor in the identified provinces in the country.
Under Executive Order 616 she signed last Tuesday, Apr. 3, the President ordered the National Nutrition Council of the Department of Health to lead the Task Force which will also be composed of national government agencies implementing the component programs of the AHMP.
The AHMP is the landmark program of the Arroyo government aimed at addressing hunger both on the aspect of supply or the unavailability or insufficiency of food and on the aspect of demand or the inability to buy food.
Ambassador Vardakis was accompanied BIARSP Programme Coordinator Peter D'huys with representatives from BIARSP Technical Support and Coordination Office (TSCO) in Dumaguete City. The Belgian party was met at Siquijor pier by DAR officials headed by PARO Teresita E. Depeņoso and by the representatives of the Provincial Governor.
The party first visited the 2.9-kilometer Pili-Canghunoghunog farm-to-market road, then the construction of two-classroom building in Cang-asa Elementary School where the party was met by Provincial Governor Orlando B. Fua. The Ambassador took time to visit the classrooms in Cang-asa Day Care Center and one primary grade school class.
The convoy proceeded to Tagmanocan Elementary School in Lazi for the turnover of the newly rehabilitated three-classroom building which is also BIARSP-funded with counterparts from the LGU and PTCA.
The turn-over ceremony was attended by Governor Orlando Fua, Mayor Orville Fua of Lazi, Dr. Antonio Del Socorro of DAR Regional Office, PARO Teresita E. Depeņoso, Mrs. Carmencita Omictin of DepEd, Brgy. Captain Romeo Lumingkit of Tagmanocan and Tagmanocan PTCA President Charles Malhin.
The Belgian ambassador was warmly received by the local officials, teachers and school children in every recipient school and by beneficiaries of infrastructure projects, with children waving the Belgian and Philippine flags. He was also met by Mayor Edwin Quimno of San Juan at Catulayan Elementary School where the construction of a two-classroom school building is still on-going. Another BIARSP project in San Juan visited by the envoy was the potable water supply system in Timbaon, San Juan.
Ambassador Vardakis's first trip to Siquijor was in 2005, visiting BIARSP funded projects and for the turn-over of the rehabilitated three-classroom building in Bogo Elementary School in Maria. (DAR/PIA) [top]