‘A tireless champion’ of OFWs: House solons mourn death of DMW Sec. Ople
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers of the House of Representatives mourned the untimely passing of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople on Tuesday.
The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) did not mention the cause of death, but Ople had been battling breast cancer.
House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said migrant workers lost “a great and tireless champion.”
Romualdez noted that Susan’s father, the late Senate President Blas F. Ople, was the labor minister under former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
“Father and daughter served under two Marcoses,” he pointed out in a statement.
For Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera, Ople was destined to lead the DMW.
“Her time as DMW was brief but capped a lifetime of devoted service,” Herrera said in a statement. “She carried the torch handed to her by the illustrious senator from Bulacan, the late Blas F. Ople.”
Herrera recalled that Ople had misgivings in accepting the DMW chief post due to her cancer diagnosis, but she eventually took up the cudgels for overseas Filipino workers.
“I recall Secretary Toots Ople hesitated in accepting the appointment to the DMW because of her continuing battle with cancer,” she said. “But inevitably, she took on the challenge to lead the newly created DMW, which is a significant part of what her father left as part of her destiny.”
“No other person was deserving and destined to lead the DMW in its infancy,” she added.
The filing author of the House Bill 2216 in the 18th Congress that led to the charter law of the DMW also expressed his condolences, saying Ople “steered the DMW out of the harbor as the first DMW chief.”
“Secretary Toots herself made many valuable inputs to the DMW charter when Congress was still working on the bill,” said Rep. Michael “Mikee” Romero of One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals (1-PACMAN) in a statement.
“During those hearings and when she became DMW Secretary, she brought to the fore her mastery and familiarity with the plight of OFWs and their families,” Romero added.
“She was as much an author of the DMW charter as my colleagues, and I in Congress were because of her valuable insights, which guided us in crafting the bill,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bicol Saro Partylist Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan said Ople’s “integrity, strength of character, and unwavering dedication to public service” served as an inspiration to everyone.
“Toots will never be forgotten, both as a close friend and as a model of exemplary public service,” Yamsuan said in a statement. “Those of us who knew her and her kindness will always cherish her memory.”