Press Release
August 23, 2023

Profound Sympathy: Death of Former DMW Secretary
Maria Susan "Toots" Ople

August 23, 2023

Mr. President, today the entire Philippines suffers a great loss. Before anything else, allow me to express my condolences to the bereaved family, loved ones, and colleagues of the Department of Migrant Worker (DMW) Secretary Maria Susan "Toots" Ople. I humbly stand, then, to co-sponsor Senate Resolution No. 747, expressing the profound sympathy and sincere condolences of the Senate on the death of Maria Susan "Toots" Ople.

The good Secretary passed away yesterday, August 22, 2023. Throughout all the manifestations, we will hear so many great and noble things about her. We will hear of how Secretary Toots was a champion of Filipino migrant workers who answered the call of service even when she was battling with cancer. Secretary Toots was a woman in a category of her own, standing not only for the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) but also for their family at home.

Allow me, however, Mr. President, to remember her in a way that is different, but also the same. When I was still Chief of the Philippine National Police, Secretary Toots wrote me an open letter, which was published in one of our national newspapers on January 22, 2017. In that letter, she wrote, and I quote:

"Amidst the rivalry between good and evil within the Philippine National Police, I implore you to keep us safe, and for justice and human rights to be the bedrocks of our society."

To me, that was the kind of person that Secretary Toots was and never failed to be. She was one who reminded me, reminded all of us, of what our positions mean and what they demand of us. Fearless in the face of authority, if it meant reminding those in authority that whatever power they possess is only on account of the people who trust them, the people whose rights they are called upon to uphold. Secretary Toots was a force to be reckoned with, and I cannot even bear to keep talking about her in the past tense. Mr. President, she still is a force to be reckoned with.

Mr. President, we may have lost her physically but her exemplary contribution to our country will remain a legacy. It is this legacy that will persist, despite the physical loss that we now feel. Ang integridad ng kanyang pamumuno at pamamahala ay magpapatuloy hangga't may mga taong [pipiliing] hindi makalimot.

Kabilang ako sa mga taong iyon, Ginoong Pangulo. As I stand before this august body, I make it my commitment to continue to uphold the good governance that Secretary Toots exemplified. I will not fail you, Secretary Toots. More importantly, I will not fail the country. Your reminders reverberate in my ears even now when I am no longer Chief PNP. I will always stand for justice.

To the family and loved ones of Secretary Susan "Toots" Ople, please accept our deepest sympathies. Your loss is our loss, and we share in your grief. We are grateful for her remarkable contributions to our nation and we stand united in carrying forward the torch of her advocacy.

May Secretary Ople rest in peace, knowing that her legacy lives on, in the lives she touched and the hearts she inspired. Let us remember her with gratitude and continue to strive for a nation that honors the dignity and sacrifices of our modern-day heroes - our overseas Filipino workers.

Maraming salamat, Mr. President.

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