Press Release
August 23, 2023

Co-sponsorship Speech: Resolution on the Passing of Secretary Toots Ople

Mr. President, yesterday we lost a bright light.

Secretary Toots Ople was a remarkable public servant, who showed us that true leadership is not about power and authority, but about kindness and compassion. She was soft-spoken but self-assured; unassuming but accomplished.

Even as Secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers, she preferred to lead a low-key life, committed to the unglamorous behind-the-scenes work of helping those most in need.

Having learned from years of work under the Department of Labor and Employment and the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, she was the rightful choice to head the DMW, and of course the historic choice as well, because she was the first secretary of the Department.

She was a fierce protector and a safe harbor to our fellow Filipinos who are toiling by their lonesome in different lands.

It is a great loss to the Department to have been under her care for only a short time, but even in this short time, she has left an indelible mark, and her legacy will continue to shape the DMW in the years to come.

I was watching an interview last night that they were showing repeatedly on TV, honoring her life, and what struck me was when Karen Davila asked her about why she wanted to still work in government after being diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.

She answered by saying simply, "The rest of my life, the best of my life." In other words, she was saying she wanted to commit the rest of her life for the passion that she had in her heart, which is taking care of OFWs. That was her advocacy, Mr. President. And I really admire her for that. She became an inspiration to many of us. Para sa kanya, hindi po ito trabaho, para sa kanya it is her passion to take care of OFWs.

And I had the distinct honor to be with her in the 2016 campaign, when we all ran under Sen. Grace Poe's candidacy at the time. I remember every time we had quiet moments in the tent, behind the stage, she always talked about her advocacies, about OFWs. She will always answer her phone about a problem of OFWs in the Middle East. And although she was not a rich person, she was always extending a hand and her expertise in dealing with the problems of our OFWs. Kaya saludo po ako sa kanya.

We truly lost a great person. When the President appointed her to the DMW, I was so happy and elated that it was her who was able to be the first secretary of the department.

We will always remember Toots Ople as a singularly kind individual, who poured her heart and soul into serving our least privileged, and least heard.

So ladies and gentlemen, my colleagues in the Senate, on behalf of the Senate, we extend our deepest, deepest condolences to the family of Toots Ople.

Let us make sure that her legacy will never be forgotten and it will always continue throughout the ages.

Once again, maraming salamat, Mr. President, and again, our deepest sympathies and condolences.

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