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Pinoy Abroad

Ople: Marcos seeks protection of OFWs under his administration

Presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants the protection of Filipinos working abroad “paramount” under his administration, incoming Migrant Workers chief Susan “Toots” Ople said Tuesday.

In an interview on ANC, Ople disclosed meeting Marcos on Monday following her acceptance of his offer for her to take the helm of the newly-created Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

“We cannot go into details but I think what’s important is the overall tone of the conversation which is that we should make sure that workers' protection is paramount and we also need to balance that because we’re a player in the global economy. So we need to be conscious of the demands of the supply chain while making sure that labor rights are not compromised,” she said.

Also present in the meeting were Marcos' spokesperson, Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, and former Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma.

In leading the DMW, Ople said she wants to steer the narrative on overseas labor from being a “welfare case” to an “informed choice” made by OFWs and their families.

“Right now, di pa umaalis ang tingin na sa kanya welfare case eh. Setting aside the structure, ‘yung failure. I would like them to leave na as dignified as possible na parang it is an informed choice, not a rash decision. It was an informed choice to be made together with the family. So that mindset I want to bring to the table,” she said.

“And I want to tell them, the OFWs, ‘Don’t see yourself as kawawa because certainly, we don’t look at you like that.’ What we want is all of us are architects of our own economic recovery, so you are part of the economic recovery. All the stakeholders should treat each other as partners,” she added.

Ople likewise vowed to review the hiring system of OFWs as she lamented how “good” employees were easily recruited by “bad” employers.

“Why is it difficult for good employers to get Filipinos in the same way that bad employers... sometimes they even have an easier time getting Filipino workers. There's something wrong with the system, so we need a system review. We also need a performance review,” she said.

A long-term advocate of migrant workers’ rights, Ople established the Blas Ople Policy Center (BOPC) - a non-government organization that assists OFWs. It was named after her father, the late Senate President and Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople. — Sundy Locus/DVM, GMA News