The Manila Times : When did Bongbong's candidacy end?

By William B. Depasupil | The Manila Times

ORGANIZED labor groups have thrown their support behind President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. 's choice of Susan "Toots" Ople to head the newly created Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

Both the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and the Federation of Free Workers (FFWs), among the country's largest and well-organized labor organizations, agreed that Ople is the best choice for the position owing to her experience and concern on the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said over the weekend that Ople has dedicated almost her entire adult life to the welfare of the Filipino migrant workers and their families.

"We know Toots Ople. She has dedicated her life to the protection of our OFWs and their families, the TUCP will help her to succeed and effectively serve our modern-day heroes," Tanjusay added.

FFW President Sonny Matula said the looming appointment of Ople and that of former Labor secretary Benny Laguesma as secretaries of the DMW and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), respectively, are a welcome development.

"Laguesma and Ople are very good choices for Cabinet secretaries, they have excellent track records in government service, " the FFW said in a statement.

It said the FFW and its unions had good experiences with Laguesma in settling labor disputes when he was the administrator of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board and Labor secretary under the Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations.

Ople, on the other hand, it pointed out, is an active migrant workers advocate and has proven her dedication to the plight of the overseas workers.

"As head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute and as former undersecretary of DoLE under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, she showed leadership and pro-worker orientation in her actions and advocacies," the group said.

Ople, whose late father Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople served as Labor minister under former president Ferdinand Marcos, said she was extremely humbled and gratified by the offer of the presumptive President.

She added that she had a meeting with Marcos last week.

"He (Marcos) spoke about the need to get the new department up and running, and for it to care for our OFWs and also develop programs for their families, especially the children of migrant workers," Ople said.

"Given his kind offer for me to return to public service, I am now in a process of discernment and consultations. because I am aware of the enormity of the task and the challenges involved," the OFW advocate added.