CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – “I’ve always wanted to make a difference and be part of law enforcement, " said incoming 3rd-year criminology student and city-scholar, Ruellah Andao.
“My dream career is to serve the people who are part of my life,” she added.
Through a grant from the European Union’s Governance in Justice (GOJUST) Programme, NGO BALAOD Mindanaw has been able to provide legal awareness and education on human rights and laws on human trafficking to young people such as Ms. Andao as well as affected groups such as women and other stakeholders.
“Learning from this paralegal training inspired me to serve more since future law enforcers like me play a vital role in ensuring the welfare of people, providing a victim-survivor centered approach and protection,” said Ms. Andao.
During the paralegal training, she shared how grateful she was to be educated and empowered on where and how to refer to women who are physically abused. Now that she knows how the system works, how to handle victim-survivors, she feels she is not alone in the journey. She is also motivated to continue to inform her peers and encourage her university to be involved in advocating for women and children protection.
“We believe in the transformational power of the youth and our grant facility has focused on empowering them,” said Attorney Hector Soliman, Senior Adviser for Access to Justice for the European Union’s GOJUST Programme.
“Since launching the grant facility in March 2022, about 11,000 women, children and men have been provided with legal aid services and received knowledge and training on their rights,” he said.
Apart from empowering young people, BALAOD Mindanaw provides support to public prosecution in monitoring and handling cases of trafficking in persons including provision of legal services to victim survivors and their families.
With a total grant of EUR19 million (Php 1.1 billion ) over a period of four years, the EU’s GOJUST programme supports the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ efforts to improve access to justice for all Filipinos, and thus, contribute to inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development. GOJUST works with the Philippine Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to develop more responsive and accountable justice services in the country.