While Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) around the world may be supporting different presidential candidates in the 2016 elections, they are one in their choice of top senatorial candidate and that is active OFW advocate Ms Susan “Toots” Ople.
Being a former undersecretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the daughter of the late senator and longtime labor minister Blas Ople, Toots’ platform is centered around labor reforms and OFWs.
In an interview with Rappler, Ople highlights these points as her campaign platform which are as follows:
- Modernization of OWWA, POEA, and the various Assistance-to-Nationals Units (ATNU) of embassies and consulates;
- Passage of an anti-age discrimination at the workplace law to promote a level playing field and encourage a work environment that puts a premium on abilities rather than age;
- Unequivocal exemption by law of all OFWs from the payment of airport terminal fees and a complete accounting of non-refunded terminal fees paid by OFWs from February 1 to present;
- Creation of a Victims’ Assistance Program for Human Trafficking Survivors to enable them to “rebuild their lives, secure justice, and reintegrate successfully in their respective communities”;
- SSS pension benefits hike, lower income taxes “especially for low-waged workers,” and eliminate the Job-Order system in government.
Ople is also in favor of the creation of a “Department of OFWs” as well as a “separate Department on Maritime Affairs.”
She is also being endorsed by five out of six presidential aspirants namely Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the PDP-Laban party and his Lex Talliones fraternity brod Rep. Roy Señeres of the OFW Family party-list and official presidential bet of the newly formed Filipino Family Party, Opposition leader Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), independent candidates Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero and Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People’s Reform Party (PRP).
In 2013, Ms. Ople was named hero in her fight against human trafficking by US State Department. She received the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Hero Award from US Secretary of State John Kerry during a formal rites in Washington DC. Ople vowed to step up and expand her campaign against human trafficking.