Co-Sponsorship Speech on Senate Resolution No. 747 Expressing Profound Sympathy and Sincerest Condolences on the Death of DMW Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople

Co-Sponsorship Speech 

Resolution Expressing Profound Sympathy and Sincerest Condolences on the Death of DMW Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople

Mr. President, my dear colleagues, good afternoon. 

I rise to Co-Sponsor with a heavy heart Senate Resolution No. 747, taking into consideration my proposed Senate Resolution no. 749 expressing the Senate’s profound sympathy and sincerest condolences on the passing of Maria Susana “Toots” Ople, secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

Toots, as most of us fondly called the youngest daughter of labor leader and former Senate President Blas F. Ople, left an indelible mark on the lives of our Overseas Filipino Workers. In her lifetime, Sec. Toots embodied the very essence of service, compassion, advocacy as she dedicated her life to advancing the cause of our modern-day heroes. 

Sec. Toots was a dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of OFWs and their families. She recognized the challenges they faced and established the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute (also known as the Ople Center). This non-profit organization helps OFWs who have been victims of exploitation, abuse, discrimination, or human trafficking. The Ople Center also represents the migrant workers sector through partnerships with various bodies and organizations, such as the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and the Coalition Against Trafficking of OFWs (CAT-OFWs).

No less than the United States government recognized her unwavering and persistent efforts by awarding her the 2013 Global Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Hero Award, making her the only Asian recipient that year.

A decade ago, I sponsored Senate Resolution 130 in this August chamber. The resolution commended Sec. Toots for receiving the said award which was given after the Philippines was listed in the US State Department’s Annual Trafficking in Persons Report as a tier 2 country. this recognition signifies the country’s ongoing efforts to follow the prescribed benchmarks for preventing human trafficking.

At sa pangalawang pagkakataon na tumayo ako para papurihan at bigyan ng parangal si Sec. Toots, ito na pala ang pinakahuli. 

She is indeed her father’s daughter. A fierce advocate for labor policies that safeguard the welfare of our overseas workers, Sec. Toots was a familiar sight in many congressional inquiries, sitting beside victims of injustice, giving them comfort, reassurance, and voice to the helpless. 

Siya ang nagsilbing boses ng mga OFW na naging biktima ng tanim-bala, pilferage ng balikbayan boxes at extortion na naranasan ng ilan nating mga kababayan sa NAIA at naging gabay sa pagbalangkas ng mga polisiya para mapagtibay ang mga umiiral na batas. 

Karapat-dapat lamang na bigyan ng pinakamataas na pagkilala ng senado ang pinakamasugid na tagapagtaguyod ng kapakanan at karapatan ng mga ofw at tapat na lingkod-bayan. 

Beyond her advocacy, Sec. Toots was a beacon of hope and inspiration to countless individuals. her compassion, warmth, and unyielding determination resonated with everyone she encountered. she stood as a shining example of how an individual can make a significant difference in the lives of many. 

As we look back on her accomplishments, we must carry on her legacy. We should endeavor to maintain the values she advocated for and put in the effort to establish a setting where our OFWs are safeguarded and recognized for their dedication and impact.

This resolution stands as a testament to the invaluable contributions of Toots Ople, whose legacy continues to inspire us in our efforts to elevate the rights, dignity, and well-being of our OFWs. May her life serve as a source of inspiration as we navigate the road ahead and guide us in our pursuit of a better, brighter future for them and their families.

Thank you.