PH eyes labor deal with Russia during Duterte visit: envoy

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 02 2019 05:44 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hand with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 24, 2017. Maxim Shemetov, Reuters/File

MANILA - The Philippines hopes to secure an agreement for the protection of its migrant workers in Russia as President Rodrigo Duterte visits Moscow anew, Manila's Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said Wednesday.

Duterte is expected to raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin when they hold bilateral talks. The Philippine leader arrived in Moscow early Wednesday morning, kicking off his second visit to Russia upon Putin's invitation.

"Dahil mahalaga ho ang overseas Filipinos kay Presidente, I cannot imagine him not raising it and putting his advocacy behind it," Sorreta said in an interview, a transcript of which was sent to reporters in Manila.

(Because Filipino migrant workers are important to the President, I cannot imagine him not raising it and putting his advocacy behind it.)

Sorreta said around 90 percent of Filipinos working in Russia are women who are employed as nannies or household workers. Most, however, do not have a legal visa since there are only about 100 visas available to Filipinos for household service employment.

"The rest do not have this visa to work here. But they work here. They are doing very well. We have not had a case of an employer physically hurting their Filipino employee," Sorreta said.

Sorreta noted that there has been a wave of Filipinos coming to work for Russia but are having trouble securing work visas since most of them seek employment as nannies.

"Dahil walang agreement, kokonti lang ang may legal visa para specific doon sa trabaho nila na caretaker or household service worker. ‘Yan po’y maso-solve hopefully with the bilateral labor agreement na tinatrabaho na namin," he said.

(Because there is no agreement, only few people have a legal visa for the specific work that they have, like caretaker or household service worker. We hope to solve that with the bilateral labor agreement that we are working on.)

As the Philippines pushes for the labor agreement, Sorreta appealed to local recruiters to refrain from illegally hiring Filipinos to work in Russia.

"Hindi makakatulong ‘yan sa efforts namin na mag-negotiate ng bilateral labor agreement. Kailangan kasi natin patunayan sa Russian government na marunong tayo sumunod sa kanilang batas at mas tataas ‘yung trust and understanding para basis para mag-negotiate," he said.

(Illegal recruitment is not helping our efforts to negotiate for a bilateral agreement. We need to prove to the Russian government that we know how to follow their law so that we can earn their trust and understanding which will serve as basis for negotiation.)

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said there are about 7,000 Filipinos in Russia. During his trip there this week, Duterte is set to meet with the Filipino community.