PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte advised the Filipino community in Russia to abide by Russian laws as he assured overstaying Filipinos that the government is working on legitimizing their stay in the Soviet state.
Duterte was on a five-day official visit to Russia where he met with his counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, to discuss issues pertaining to economic, security, and labor cooperation among others.
“In the bilaterals…itong issue ngayon ng expired passport. ‘Yung expired passport ninyo, ipa-renew lang dito, wala nang problema,” Duterte said when he met with the Filipino community here on Saturday, his last official engagement before he flew back to the Philippines.
(In the bilaterals, the issue of expired passports was raised. Your expired passports can be renewed here, no more problem.)
“I’m ordering the Consular Office or the Embassy. Hindi na kayo umuwi ng Pilipinas, dito na i-renew ninyo ang passport ninyo. Wala nang problema (You don’t need to go home to the Philippines, you can renew your passport here. No problem),” Duterte added.
He touched upon the issue of overstaying Filipinos working in Russia and said that the Russian government, while aware of the situation, understands why Filipinos seek greener pastures abroad.
“‘Yung ngayon nag-overstay tapos ‘yung nagtatago-tago. Alam ng Russia. Russia has a very good government. Efficient ‘yan eh, alam nila. Pero sabi nila na, ‘Hindi naman kami manghuhuli. We know the problem, your plight, alam namin gaano kahirap sa Pilipinas,’” the President said.
(Russia knows about those who overstay and hide from authorities. Russia has a very good government. It’s efficient; they know. But they said, ‘We won’t catch them. We know the problem, your plight; we know how hard it is in the Philippines.’)
“The most important thing to remember is that we are working with the blessings of President Putin and…maybe the parliament here. We’re working on a working visa or something to legitimize your stay,” he added.
Duterte, meanwhile, asked the Filipino community to 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.
(Just follow the law and we won’t have any problem. So all 10,000 of you shouldn’t have any criminal records or something.)
“You know, the criminal laws of Russia is very strict. Mas istrikto pa sa Pilipinas (They’re stricter than the Philippines’). So, kindly just…I’m pleading na huwag kayong gumawa (don’t disobey the law). Do not do anything that will jeopardize the relation at…maging masama ang tingin nila sa atin (their perception of us may be tainted),” he added.
According to Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta, Putin, during his bilateral meeting with Duterte, agreed that there is a need for a labor pact between the two countries.
Sorreta was among those who joined Duterte during his bilateral meeting with Putin in Sochi on Thursday.