Moscow, Russia—The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is working on a bilateral labor agreement with Russia to address the concerns of undocumented Filipinos staying in the country, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Saturday, October 5.
In a speech during a meeting with the Filipino community here, President Duterte said he raised the labor issue of Filipinos in Russia in his bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin who also recognized the need for a legal framework in the labor relations between the two countries.
The Russian government, he said, also made an assurance that it will not carry out a crackdown on illegal immigrants considering the hardships being experienced by Filipinos back home.
“Secretary Bello is working on an agreement na kayong nandito staying — overstaying or have had problems, there will be — they will be covered with an understanding,” the President told Filipinos in Russia.
Numbering 10,000 already, the President advised undocumented Filipinos to spend time to renew their passports and reapply for a legal status in Russia to legitimize their stay.
“They (Russians) would be willing to make an arrangement,” he said.
He also told Filipinos to follow Russia’s laws and stay away from trouble.
“Ang aking prayer lang is just abide by the laws of Russia. Sumunod lang kayo sa batas at wala tayong problema. So kayo lahat dito 10,000, wala tayong record ng kalokohan o ano,” he said.
“I’m pleading na huwag kayong gumawa. Do not do anything that will jeopardize the relation at maging masama ang tingin nila sa atin. Obey the laws. Follow the procedure.”
There’s a huge potential in Russia’s labor market that the Philippines can tap, the Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said in previous interview.
Although the country’s supply is mostly childcare and household workers, the Philippines can expand to include skilled workers and professionals for Russia’s oil industry, mining, and construction.
There are some hurdles, however, such as the continued illegal recruitment of Filipino workers bound for Russia, as well as the use of fake documents by Filipinos. He said such practices may hamper or delay the crafting of a labor pact with Russia.
President Duterte also reported to the Filipinos the current developments in the Philippines, renewing his determination to get rid of corruption and illegal drugs in the country.
Also on Saturday, the Chief Executive expressed his gratitude to President Putin for taking care and securing the welfare of the Filipino population here.
“I would like to thank President Putin and the Russian government and the people of Russia for being so nice at hindi kayo pinaghirapan,” he said.
The Russian government was also helpful to the Philippines during its campaign against ISIS-linked Islamists in Marawi City two years ago, the President said, noting the arms supplied by Russia gave the Philippine military crucial support during the fight to liberate the city.
Bayanihan, Madrigal Singers wow Russian audience
Saturday’s event also featured the performances of the Bayanihan Dance Company and the Philippine Madrigal Singers to the delight of the Filipino community here.
Both groups are world-renowned, winning accolades for their performances from across the world.
The Philippines’ world-renowned cultural groups—the Bayanihan Dance Company and the Madrigal Singers—made well-received presentations seen to further enhance the close ties between the Philippines and Russia.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte watched the event together with the members of his delegation, the Russian audience, and the diplomatic community here.
Friday’s Philippine Cultural Gala Performance at the Four Seasons Hotel was a first for a Filipino community event outside the country, Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said in an interview.
It shows the President’s deep love for the Filipinos abroad, he said, adding the hosting of the gala was upon the instruction of the Chief Executive.
“He’s never host — brought this. My other surprise is we are hosting — he has ordered us to hold a gala featuring Bayanihan and Madrigal Singers and to invite the Russian people and the diplomatic community to watch,” Sorreta said.
Bayanihan, the Philippine National Folk Dance Company, is a multi-awarded dance group, and has made 14 major tours to Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, Middle East, and America.
The group has recently won first place at the first Federation of International Dance Festivals Brazil World Championship and the 15th International Folklore Festival of Nova Prata.
The University of the Philippines (UP) Madrigal Singers, also known as Philippine Madrigal Singers, was organized in 1963 by National Artist Prof. Andrea Veneracion.
The group is composed of students, faculty, and alumni from the different colleges of UP. It holds the distinction of being the first choir in the world to win the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing twice, in 1997 and in 2007.