Ople vows to protect OFWs from “bad employers” as DMW chief

Susan “Toots” Ople on Tuesday vowed to review the hiring system for Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) once she formally assumes the role of Secretary in the newly established Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) under the incoming administration of Bongbong Marcos.,Ople questioned why “bad employers” allegedly have it easier in hiring Filipino workers abroad.,“I want to review all the systems in place. Why is it difficult for good employers to get Filipinos in the same way that bad employers are, sometimes, they even have an easier time to get Filipino workers,” she claimed.,Ople accepted Marcos’ offer on Monday.,[Related story: Marcos Cabinet members now 7] ,As the DMW is expected to be operationalized in 2023, Ople would lead in the creation of the transition roadmap towards the constitution of the new government agency, which is primarily tasked to protect the rights and promote the welfare of OFWs around the world.,“I am coming in more so as a specialist in my field. Also, perhaps as someone who has a father for her idol throughout her life and would like to do justice to the legacy he left behind,” she said.,“I have to lead by example just like my dad did. I’ve been telling people, to watch my back. My prayer is, really, not to lose my moral compass.”,She added that she would spend the next six months consulting with stakeholders to make them be involved in the DMW’s development process and eye a “common vision” for the department.,Ople wants to “change the narrative of the OFW”, saying that she doesn’t want them to be seen as a “welfare case.”,“I would like them to leave as dignified as possible. It’s an informed choice, not a rash decision. It’s an informed choice to be made together with the family,” she stressed.,“The mindset I want to bring to the table—I want to tell the OFWs that they should not see (themselves) as pitiful because certainly, we don’t look at you that way.,“Labor migration is here to stay. There’s nothing bad with that (labor mobility). People go where the jobs are,” she explained.,Ople added that Marcos specifically asked her to develop programs that would take care of the families of the OFWs, who are left in the Philippines.,During the deliberations of the bill creating the DMW, Ople was among the congressional resource persons who pushed for its enactment, saying that a single department is necessary to address the concerns of OFWs.,She is the youngest of the seven children of the late former Labor Secretary and Senator Blas Ople, whom Marcos described as the “champion of labor”.,The elder Ople served as labor chief for 17 years during the term of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.,He was credited for introducing various reforms in the department including allowing local workers to work overseas, aside from being one of the astute advisers of Bongbong’s father.,Susan is the president of Blas Ople Policy Center, which assists distressed OFWs in various parts of the world.