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Migrant workers department says new appointments complete 'dream team'

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Migrant workers department says new appointments complete 'dream team'
DMW Undersecretary for Licensing and Adjudication Services and POEA Officer-in-Charge Bernard Olalia, DMW Secretary Susan "Toots" Ople, and DMW Undersecretary for Welfare and Foreign Employment and former OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac hold a press briefing at the POEA Building on July 1, 2022.
Philstar.com / Kaycee Valmonte

MANILA, Philippines — Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople on Wednesday announced new appointments to form the department’s “dream team,” which includes former administrators of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

The department also introduced an official who will lead reintegration efforts as they hope to break the intergenerational cycle of families sending workers abroad for better opportunities.

"This mix of familiar faces and new names reflects our desire for continuity and innovation. The DMW’s ‘dream team’ is now in place, and we vow to serve our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) faithfully and with utmost professionalism," Ople said in a statement.

Bernard Olalia is now the DMW undersecretary for licensing and adjudication services as he also sits as the POEA Officer-in-Charge. He will hold the positions concurrently until the newly established department’s 2023 budget gets approved. 

Prior to his appointment at the department, he was with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the POEA for over five years. 

Hans Leo Cacdac — who was previously the OWWA Administrator — has been appointed undersecretary for welfare and foreign employment. He brings with him over two decades of experience after working with the DOLE and the OWWA.

Cacdac as DMW undersecretary will be in charge of the DMW Aksyon Fund that is allocated for programs aimed to assist distressed OFWs.

Meanwhile, Arnell Ignacio will now take the helm of OWWA as its chief administrator, a promotion from his previous post as OWWA deputy administrator. The department said Ignacio is “keenly aware of the plight of migrant workers having himself been one for many years.”

Seasoned, new DMW undersecretaries

DMW also named Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones as undersecretary for finance and internal affairs, while Patricia Yvonne Caunan is undersecretary for policy and international cooperation. 

Velasco-Allones has been in the civil service for over three decades and previously led the Tourism Promotion Board. She also served under the Arroyo administration as an assistant secretary for the labor department. 

Meanwhile, Caunan’s appointment to the DMW will be her first exposure to government service. She is said to be an advocate of migrant workers’ rights and reportedly gave free legal assistance. Caunan led a law firm that focuses on labor, civil, administrative, and civil cases. 

Ople also named new assistant secretaries of the department: 

  • Land-based Services Assistant Secretary and Office of the Secretary Chief of Staff Jerome A. Alcantara 
  • Sea-based Services Assistant Secretary Jerome Pampolina
  • Assistant Secretary for Pre-employment Services Levinson Alcantara
  • Migrant Workers Welfare Services Assistant Secretary Felicitas Bay
  • Assistant Secretary for Licensing and Adjudication Services Francis Ron de Guzman
  • Internal Management and Administration Assistant Secretary Violeta Illescas 

"Mixing seasoned labor officials with new, hopeful and idealistic public servants creates a synergy for creativity without impeding continuity of best practices," Ople told reporters in an online message.

The new appointees will take their oath before Ople on Friday.

Reintegration

Meanwhile, the department also appointed former OFW Venecio Legaspi as its assistant secretary for reintegration. 

Legaspi worked in Saudi Arabia for 29 years and is said to be a “success story” after climbing the corporate ladder to become vice president at a Jeddah-based bank, saving enough to kickstart his own resort in Northern Samar along with other investments. 

Legaspi is dubbed as an example of an OFW with a retirement plan.

“Mahalaga yung reintegration kasi ‘di naman puwedeng forever mag-OFW — lahat tayo tatanda at magre-retire,” Ople said. “Gusto din namin sa DMW na hanggat maari ma-break ang intergenerational na cycle ng pagiging OFW.”

(Reintegration is important because you can’t be a migrant worker forever — we will all grow old and eventually retire. We at the DMW, as much as possible, hope to break that trend of intergenerational cycles of sending migrant workers.)

DEPARTMENT OF MIGRANT WORKERS

SUSAN OPLE

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