Department of Migrant Workers

Hans Cacdac is new DMW secretary

Dwight de Leon, Michelle Abad

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Hans Cacdac is new DMW secretary

DMW CHIEF. Then-officer-in-charge Hans Cacdac speaks in a press briefing at the Department of Migrant Workers on July 19, 2023.


(2nd UPDATE) His ad interim appointment, which needs to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, comes seven months after he was designated officer-in-charge of the Department of Migrant Workers

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed Hans Cacdac as the new secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), succeeding the late Susan “Toots” Ople.

The Presidential Communications Office made the announcement on Thursday, April 25.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story reported that Cacdac’s ad-interim appointments comes a year after his designation as OIC. This has been corrected.

His ad interim appointment, which needs to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, comes seven months after he was designated officer-in-charge of the agency.

In a statement on Friday, April 26, Cacdac said he was “deeply humbled” that the President entrusted to him the duty of watching over the millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“As secretary, I shall further dedicate myself to safeguarding the rights and welfare of our dear OFWs who, in the words of the President, represent the very best of our beloved country. I am committed to ensuring their fair treatment, protection, and support, with due attention given to OFW families,” he said.

“We shall continue to adhere to a rights-based approach and ensure the utmost protection of our OFWs’ human and employment rights,” he added.

In his first statement as secretary, Cacdac highlighted a number of priorities under his watch, including digitizing OFW processes, regulating safe and ethical recruitment, promoting financial literacy, developing OFWs’ skills and career paths, and the pursuit of “deeper” bilateral labor relations with OFW host countries.

Cacdac also paid tribute to his predecessor Ople, whom he also described as a friend. “I look forward to further building upon the legacy she began,” he said.

Decades of experience as a labor official

Cacdac has had years of experience in government, having served in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), before being among the inaugural undersecretaries of the DMW, formed under the Marcos administration.

Prior to his government posts, Cacdac worked with the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal after passing the bar in 1994. He moved on to serve in the government as director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bureau of Labor Relations in 2001.

After a year-long stint as the National Conciliation and Mediation Board administrator, Cacdac was deputy administrator of the POEA from 2006 to 2010, which was then under the DOLE. He became a DOLE undersecretary in 2010, POEA administrator in 2012, and OWWA administrator in 2016. 

He became the first DMW undersecretary for foreign employment and welfare services in 2022, and was appointed officer-in-charge a month after Ople’s death in August.

Amid duties in his larger posts, Cacdac accomplished various technical tasks in labor and migration governance in the local and international sphere. 

Some notable posts he’s held include the chairperson of the International Labor Organization (ILO) tripartite workshop on private employment agencies in 2009, and from 2009 to 2016, he was the head of the Philippine delegation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee on Migrant Workers tasked to develop an instrument to implement a 2008 ASEAN declaration of protection of migrant workers’ rights.

Also in 2009, Cacdac was chair of the technical working group tasked by then-labor secretary Marianito Roque to craft the omnibus implementing rules and regulations of the 1995 migrant workers and overseas Filipinos law.

In 2011 and 2012, he assumed more leadership roles in labor migration policymaking, such as the chairman of the ILO Committee on Domestic Workers in Geneva, and lead negotiator for Philippine-Kuwait negotiations that led to the creation of a labor cooperation agreement.

Cacdac also led negotiations for Philippine labor agreements with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Germany, and Singapore. 

Lawmakers whose track record includes championing the rights of migrant workers’ welcomed Cacdac’s appointment as DMW chief.

“Over the past eight months, he has served as the sturdy anchor of the DMW and a steadfast protector of OFWs amidst ongoing geopolitical shifts around the globe,” said House overseas workers affairs panel chairperson and Kabayan Representative Ron Salo. 

“As a veteran in public service and of migration policies, he knows the ins and outs of the processes and nuances of Philippine labor migration. But more than his capabilities, Secretary Cacdac also has his heart in the right place – to offer genuine service to our overseas Filipino workers and their families,” said Representative Marissa “del Mar” Magsino of party-list group OFW. –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.
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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.