Manila Standard : Marcos tasks Ople to ensure welfare of OFWs, families

By Rio N. ArajaandMacon Ramos-Araneta | Manila Standard

The incoming secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants her agency to take care of the children of overseas Filipino workers and to help returning workers find jobs or business opportunities.

“He wants us to take care of the OFWs and their families,” said DMW Secretary-designate Susan Ople, speaking in Filipino on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo. “He is very concerned about the children, especially those whose mother and father are both abroad.”

She also said the incoming president wants to see an effective reintegration of returning OFWs and suggested creating a database of returning skilled workers so they can be matched with jobs from prospective employers in the country.

“So his concern is not only for those leaving, but also the families left behind and returning OFWs. He said we should have a database for returning OFWs so that if for example, a hotel here is looking for a very experienced chef and we know that someone is arriving, let’s say, from London, the returning OFW and his prospective employers would no longer have difficulty,” Ople said.

The longtime labor advocate and daughter of former Labor Secretary and Senator Blas Ople said the effective reintegration of returning OFWs is among Marcos Jr.’s aspirations.

“President-elect Marcos issued an instruction that if we know how many are leaving, the country should also know how many are coming home, their occupation, and their dreams so that the government can support them,” she said.

Millions of migrant Filipino workers are spread all over the world, remitting $2.59 billion in March 2022 through banks, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Meanwhile, SAGIP party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta on Sunday denied that he is lobbying to be the next secretary of the Department of Energy.

He thanked Marcos, however, for supposedly considering him for the position.

“Our people should know that I am not insisting on myself to [take] that position. What I just want you to know is, whoever is appointed to that post should address the country’s problems and reforms as promised, to lower power rates,” he said in an interview on Net 25.

“Sagip was able to get two seats (in Congress). Now, if you are one with us in supporting the objectives of the energy sector, I am one of those who promise to help lower the rates of electricity,” he said.

Marcoleta ran for the Senate this year but pulled out of the race, some said, so he could sidestep the one-year ban on appointments of losing candidates.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who chaired the Senate committee on energy in the 18th Congress, said the next Energy secretary should be a veteran in the industry with a long-term vision for the country’s energy security.

He did not specify, however, who it was that he supported for the post.

“Having been at the helm of the Senate energy committee for the past six years, I can say that the next DOE secretary should have the following qualities: long-term vision, technical knowledge, commitment to the energy transition, experience, and unquestionable integrity,” Gatchalian said.

Armed with such credentials, such a person for the job is expected to be a proactive leader at the forefront of the energy sector who can steer government policies that will shield the country from external shocks, he added.

“Based on my experience, expertise in the matters concerning the energy industry should be of utmost consideration in choosing the appointee, especially in a highly technical industry. Energy is not an ordinary sector. You need some level of experience. It’s a difficult sector with numerous intricacies that you have to learn first to push for reforms to transform the industry,” the senator said.

“The job of the DOE is to forecast supply, demand, pricing, and global trends. Our country is very susceptible to supply and demand as well as global prices because we import 99 percent of our oil. Malampaya is depleting and there are other pressing concerns.”

“The job now of the DOE is to come up with solutions ahead of time. We have enacted many laws in response to the emerging trends but if the leadership of the department is not appreciative of reforms and needed changes, then we’ll be doing the same things over and over again,” he said.

Other local officials appointed to the Marcos Cabinet were outgoing Davao City Mayor and Vice President-elect Sara Duterte for the Department of Education, ex-Mandaluyong City mayor and Metro Manila Development Authority chairperson Benhur Abalos for the Department of Interior and Local Government, and ex-Cavite governor Jesus Crispin Remulla for the Department of Justice.