OFW advocate receives State Department award

Secretary of State John Kerry thanks Susan Ople for helping trafficked victims as he hands her the 2013 Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award

Secretary of State John Kerry thanks Susan Ople for helping trafficked victims as he hands her the 2013 Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award

Migrant workers’ rights advocate Susan Ople received the 2013 Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award on June 19 from US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Benjamin Franklin Room of the US Department of State in Washington D.C.

Ople was cited for “her outspoken advocacy on behalf of the millions of Filipino workers, and her continuing work to provide labor trafficking victims with legal and reintegration assistance that empowers workers and prevents further exploitation in the Philippines.”

Secretary Kerry thanked Ople and said, “good job!” while giving the youngest daughter of the late Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople a warm hug before leaving the room for his next engagement.

“This is a pleasant surprise, a remarkable blessing. It’s the best belated Father’s Day gift ever for my Amang,” Ople said. She vowed to work harder in helping distressed Filipino workers all over the world including those in the United States.

Ople expressed interest in the case involving a Saudi diplomat who allegedly maltreated his Filipino household helpers in the US.

“Whether in a first world country like the US or in less developed nations, our Filipino workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Human slavery exists when people of privilege think that their lives are more important than that of others,” the migrant workers’ advocate said.

Susan Ople heads the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists OFWs and their families. The Center provides free legal advice, reintegration services, and skills training for victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment. The center is named after the late labor secretary, senator and foreign affairs secretary Blas F. Ople who died while on official mission enroute from Tokyo to Bahrain in December 14, 2003.

The Ople Center sits as the NGO representative of the OFW sector in the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking which is co-chaired by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman. Vice-President Jejomar Binay is chairman emeritus of IACAT.

Ople leaves Washington D.C. today for Cincinnati, Ohio where the US State Department has prepared a series of meetings for the anti-slavery heroes. From Ohio, the group of 8 awardees will proceed to Dallas, Texas where they will learn more about aftercare services and programs for trafficked victims.

The other Trafficking in Persons Hero awardees are: Laura Anyola Tufon of Cameroon, Katrin Gluic of Croatia, Simona Broomes of Guyana, Mohammed Bassam Al-Nasseri of Iraq, Javier Antonio Morazan and Juan Victoriano Ruiz of Nicaragua, Ippei Torri of Japan and Paul Holmes of the United Kingdom (Holmes was unable to come to the US to receive his award.)

“I have found my true calling in helping our OFWs. They inspired my father before, and they continue to inspire me now,” Susan Ople said.



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  1. [...] “I have found my true calling in helping our OFWs. They inspired my father before, and they continue to inspire me now,” Susan Ople said. – The FilAm Metro DC [...]