MANILA — Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople, the pioneering head of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), passed away on Tuesday at the age of 61.

The DMW issued a statement announcing her peaceful passing.

“Secretary Toots peacefully joined her Creator at approximately 1 PM today, August 22, 2023, surrounded by her family and loved ones” it said.

Although the statement didn’t specify the cause of her demise, it was known that Ople had been engaged in a battle against breast cancer.

“We will be providing additional information shortly. In the interim, we humbly request prayers for the eternal rest of the soul of our beloved Sec. Toots,” stated DMW spokesperson Toby Nebrija.

Toots Ople established the nonprofit institution Blas Ople Policy Center, which was named after her father, the late Senate President and Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Fajardo Ople.

In 1976, under the administration of Ferdinand E. Marcos, her father initiated the concept of overseas employment during his tenure as labor secretary.

Towards the end of July, she made known her intention to take a two-week hiatus from her duties following the passing of her two elder siblings. (ai/mnm)