7 Oct 2019 19:30

Philippine govt seeking to legalize presence of its migrant workers in Russia - Duterte

MOSCOW. Oct 7 (Interfax) - The government of the Philippines is drawing up a draft agreement with Russia on the status of Philippine migrant workers in Russia, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said at a meeting with his compatriots at the VDNH exhibition center in Moscow.

"Secretary [of Labor and Employment Silvestre] Bello is working on an agreement," Duterte said.

The official website of the Philippine government says Duterte had brought up the matter of Philippine workers in Russia at a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on October 3.

The agreement on which the Philippine government is working now may concern those workers who have overstayed their visas in Russia, he said.

While meeting with his compatriots in Moscow, Duterte advised them to apply for permission to stay in Russia again, saying that about 10,000 illegal migrants from the Philippines are staying in the country now.

He said the Russian government is prepared to settle the problem and assured Manila that it would not oppress illegal migrant workers, taking into account "hardships they would face once returning to the Philippines."

Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta had said earlier that, while most of Philippine migrants work as nannies and housemaids, the country can also offer qualified employees for the Russian oil, mining, and construction industries.

The government website said the illegal employment of Philippine workers in Russia and the use of fake documents by Philippine workers themselves was still widespread, which could hamper the conclusion of an agreement with Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said following negotiations with former Philippine Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano in May 2018 that Moscow was interested in making sure that "the Philippine workers in Russia are socially protected."

Lavrov assured Cayetano that, "with the conclusion of an agreement," which the parties had agreed to start drawing up at the time, Philippine workers would be properly protected.