By Anna Leah Gonzales
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. led a private necrological service for the late Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople in Malacañang Palace’s Kalayaan Hall on Monday morning and admitted that the post she vacated is “too large to fill”.
Marcos added that the entire country suffered a great loss with the passing of Ople on August 22 at the age of 61 after battling breast cancer.
“And if I do shed a tear, it is because it is such a sad day to know –it is such a sad– a bit of knowledge to know that Toots will not be here anymore and what a big gap she will leave not only to our friends, not only to our family but to the millions of those who she took care of, who she loved, and who she worked for tirelessly and endlessly,” the President said who turned emotional during the service.
Marcos admitted that it would be difficult to find a DMW chief as dedicated as Ople.
However, the President said that while he might not find a successor like Ople, the work at DWM must continue to ensure the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and to realize Ople’s vision for the new department.
Marcos said his friendship with Ople dates back to when he was a senator, with the late DMW Secretary working with him concerning OFW welfare.
He said Ople had an extraordinary sense of professionalism.
“At malaki ang respeto ko kay Toots sa kanyang pagka-professional, sa kanyang kasipagan, at talaga ang puno’t dulo nung lahat ang kanyang pagmamahal talaga sa kapwa Pilipino. At iyon ay –that was on a professional side. (And I have a lot of respect for Toots for her professionalism, her diligence, and really the bottom line is her true love for fellow Filipinos. And that was –that was on a professional side),” said Marcos, pointing out Ople’s quick response whenever there was a crisis.
Marcos appointed Ople to head the newest department of the government at the start of his administration.
A staunch advocate of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) rights, Ople founded the Blas Ople Policy Center (BOPC), named after her father, which assists distressed OFWs in various parts of the world. (PNA)