October 23, 2020
Former labor undersecretary and OFW advocate Susan Ople has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, according to Director-General and Executive Director Ghada Fatha Waly of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
According to the records of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the youngest daughter of the late Foreign Affairs Secretary and Senate President Blas F. Ople will be the first Filipino appointed to the said position. The UN Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking marks its 10th anniversary this year.
“I am confident that with your invaluable support and guidance, many victims and survivors of human trafficking around the world will be able to receive much needed assistance,” Waly wrote in her congratulatory letter to Ople.
The Trust Fund is an integral element of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in July 2010. Since its establishment, the Trust Fund has provided direct humanitarian, legal and financial assistance to thousands of victims through grassroots non-government organization projects.
Ople joins other members of the Board from Belgium, Armenia, Nigeria and Panama.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by this vote of confidence from no less than the UNODC and the UN Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking. I look forward to making a difference in the lives not only of abused Filipino overseas workers but victims of slavery and human trafficking of all nationalities across the globe,” Ople said.
The OFW advocate heads the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, a non-profit organization that has been helping distressed OFWs for the last 16 years. The Ople Center represents the NGO Sector for Migrant Workers in the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT). It was the IACAT through the Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs that nominated Ople to the position.
According to UNODC Director-General Ghada Waly, the role of the Board of Trustees is to provide strategic guidance on the Fund, to consider proposed projects for financing, and at this point in particular, to support efforts to mobilize resources.
“We are very pleased to have a person of your caliber and experience partnering with UNODC in its endeavor top help those who suffer from injustice and violations of their rights,” the UN official said in her letter to Ople.
Ople served as labor undersecretary during then Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas’s term under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In 2013, she was hailed by the US State Department as one of its Trafficking in Persons Heroes in the Annual Trafficking in Persons Report. In 2010, she was the first Filipino to receive the Alumni Achievement Award from the Kennedy School of Government Harvard University for her fight against human trafficking.
Various OFW groups welcomed the appointment of Ople to the UN Trust Fund as this would enable her to bring the concerns of vulnerable and enslaved migrant workers all over the world.
Luther Calderon of KAMPI, said Ople will be the voice of migrant workers in Southeast Asia that have suffered greatly at the hands of human traffickers and illegal recruiters.
“She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that could only come from decades of hard work and dedication to the cause of migrant workers’ rights and putting an end to modern slavery,” Calderon said.
The IACAT in its council meeting yesterday also lauded Ople’s appointment saying it was well-deserved.