OFW advocate is among US anti-trafficking heroes
MANILA, Philippines – The United States on Thursday, June 20, hailed a Filipino migrants' rights worker as one of its 9 heroes against sex slavery, forced labor, and other forms of human trafficking.
The US State Department named Susan “Toots” Ople, founder and president of the Blas F Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, among its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Heroes for 2013.
In its citation for Ople, the US State Department recognized the Ople Center's role in providing free legal assistance to trafficking survivors and helping them reintegrate into society.
“Ms Ople works tirelessly to reintegrate trafficking victims into Philippine society, believing that skills training combined with good job placement will empower these workers to secure safer employment. Through her leadership, the Ople Center has entered into partnerships with hotels, private sector companies, and legislative offices to secure jobs and training for trafficking survivors,” the US State Department said.
Best Father's Day 'gift'
Ople said she received the award on behalf of all anti-trafficking advocates – those in government, other non-government organizations, the media, and groups of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
"I intend to bring home what I've learned from the various anti-trafficking programs in the US and devote more time to studying the government's aftercare programs for human trafficking victims, especially those situated in foreign posts,” said Ople, a former labor undersecretary.
She also said this is the best Father's Day gift for her dad, former Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople. The father helped author the Labor Code of the Philippines when he was labor minister, a post he held for 19 years during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas, for his part, congratulated Susan Ople for being a true “nanay (mother)” to OFWs.
On the same day that she received the award, the US State Department released its annual TIP report.
In this year's report, it said the Philippines barely improved in its fight against human trafficking for the past two years. Retaining the Philippines' Tier 2 ranking, US cited weaknesses in the Philippine justice system. – Rappler.com