Statement on the passing of Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Toots Ople

It is hard to fathom the impact of Maria Susana “Toots” Ople’s passing on the lives of those she dedicated herself to helping- the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Toots fought tirelessly for their cause in recent years, making her a modern hero in their eyes.

Toots devoted her life to aiding our OFWs and played a crucial role in bringing attention to government regarding issues such as the “laglag bala scheme”, the opening of balikbayan boxes, and extortion schemes at NAIA. Additionally, Toots assisted in securing the release of a Filipino seafarer who was held captive by Somalian pirates for three years, as well as two others who were held hostage in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hindi pa man siya natatalaga sa Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), malaki na at hindi na mabibilang ang naging ambag ni Sec. Ople sa sector ng OFWs at nagawa niya ang mga ito habang pinamumunuan ang Blas F. Ople Policy Center, isang non-profit center na tumutulong sa mga distressed OFWs, biktima ng mga pang-aabuso at diskriminasyon. Mahaba na ang listahan ni Sec. Toots kung sa pagkakawanggawa para sa mga OFW ang pag-uusapan.

Since I personally know her, I had no hesitation in endorsing when her ad interim appointment as DMW secretary was presented for confirmation to the Commission on Appointments (CA).

I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to work alongside her when I served as the Chairperson for the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, as well as the Congressional Oversight Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COCOWA) during past Congresses. She was a regular attendee at our meetings, always providing her expertise and valuable insights to help refine legislative measures that would be beneficial for our “modern-day heroes.” Although she speaks in a gentle and sweet manner, she is a fierce advocate for the welfare of our fellow citizens and workers.

I feel that no one could ever fill her shoes in the DMW.