Senators recall Toots Ople as tireless advocate

(BUSINESS MIRROR) THE Senate unanimously adopted Resolution No. 747 Wednesday expressing the chamber’s condolences on the passing of Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople, whom they recalled as a tireless advocate for migrant workers’ rights, among others, both in her work in and out of government.

Before the unanimous vote was taken, Senate President Zubiri recalled that Secretary Ople, the youngest of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Cabinet appointees, received the “fastest” confirmation process from the Commission on Appointments last year when Malacanang Palace submitted her nomination as first secretary of the then newly set up DMW.

Among those who delivered impassioned speeches as they co-sponsored Senate Resolution 747 was Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, who said he drew heavily from Ople’s knowledge in human trafficking, illegal recruitment and migrant workers’ rights when he championed the then-controversial bill setting up the DMW.

The resolution cosponsor, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, said Ople “recognized the challenges they [OFWs] faced and established the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute,” a non-profit that helps OFWs who have been victims of exploitation, abuse, discrimination, or human trafficking.

“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,” Estrada recalled.

As all senators subsequently signed up as co-sponsors of Resolution 747, Zubiri announced they will deliver the Resolution to the Ople family at the Heritage Park in Taguig after a mass on Thursday, conveying the senators profound sympathy and sincerest condolences on  Secretary Ople’s demise.