PROFILE: Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2022 02:41 PM

After years of being an advocate of overseas Filipino workers' (OFW) rights and welfare, Susan "Toots" Ople is now set to become the secretary of the newly-formed Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) under the administration of President-elect Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. 

She is the founder of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute (Ople Center), a non-profit organization centered on OFW affairs, named after her father, who served as Labor minister during the administration of Marcos Jr.'s late father. 

With degrees from the University of Santo Tomas and the Harvard Kennedy School, the incoming DMW Secretary was the first Filipino to sit in the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking.

She ran for senator in 2016 under the Nacionalista Party but failed to win a seat. 

Years after her political defeat, Ople embarked on a battle with breast cancer, which she said was a factor for not immediately accepting the Cabinet post.

"That will be a lifelong concern, to be honest about it, whether I accept the job or I don't accept the job," she said in an earlier interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

"Sa akin kasi, panata ko na 'yung to serve our OFWs in whatever capacity so definitely it's a factor, alam ni president-elect 'yun," she said.

(For me it's already my calling to serve our OFWs in whatever capacity so definitely it's a factor. The president-elect and Atty. Vic know it.)

"That's why I'm also praying for His guidance, but definitely I've always led a mission-driven life... where God leads me, I'll be there, I'll follow," she added.

As DMW Secretary, Ople said she Marcos Jr. tasked her to also care for the children OFWs leave behind.

"Very concerned siya sa mga anak, yung mga anak na parehong magulang ang wala," she said.

(He is very concerned about the children, especially those whose mother and father are both abroad.)

"So we will work with the LGUs tungkol diyan, even sa (at the) barangay level," she added.

While some groups continue to oppose her appointment as DMW chief due to her health, Ople said she is determined to continue the brand of service her father is known for. 

"I’m coming in more so as a specialist in my field and also perhaps as someone who has a father for her idol throughout her life," she said.

"[I] would like to do justice to the legacy he left behind," she said.