Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople prepares for a press briefing after a welcoming ceremony held at the POEA Blas F. Ople Building on July 1, 2022. Philstar.com / Kaycee Valmonte
MANILA, Philippines – The congressional Commission on Appointments has greenlighted the appointment of Susan “Toots” Ople as the country’s first Department of Migrant Workers secretary.
Ople was chosen to lead the newly established department, which is formed of the different government agencies that cater to overseas Filipino workers. She is also the daughter of Blas Ople, who served as labor secretary for 19 years under the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
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Rep. Luis Raymond Villafuerte (Camarines Sur) expressed support for Ople, noting her service to migrant workers even before she was appointed to the newly established department. He also recalled how both of their fathers served the administration of late dictator, Marcos Sr.
“No other person is perfect for the job of being the first secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers than Secretary Ople,” Sen. JV Ejercito said during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Prior to her appointment, Ople served for nearly two decades at the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Center, which she also founded in 2005.
Ople said her confirmation is “an affirmation of the rights-based approach to overseas employment, a policy track that has the understanding and approval [of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.].”
READ: Migrant workers coalition wary but hopeful at Ople appointment
During her appointment hearing, Ople also laid out her priorities as the department’s first secretary, including responding to welfare cases that rose from abusive employes.
Ople echoed her earlier concern that foreign employers are not screened thoroughly. She also earlier proposed that her term would start with a “system review” to assess partner firms.
READ: Incoming Migrant Workers Secretary Ople to start with a ‘system review’
Ople also said they aim to look into the effect of climate change on workers’ welfare, the lack of decent jobs back home, the issue of illegal recruiters, and the “feminization of labor migration.”
“We also want to look into cutting the cycle of generations ending up as domestic workers abroad through creating reintegration programs,” Ople said.
“We want them to have financial literacy and implement reintegration programs so those who leave as OFWs will come back as success stories, allowing them to still support their families.” – Kaycee Valmonte