HOUSE Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is on the right track in pushing for a bilateral agreement with Russia to protect the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
ACTS-OFW Party-list Representative John Bertiz III pledged his support to the outgoing Speaker on her initiative to help the OFWs.
Both Arroyo and Bertiz attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia last June 8.
Bertiz learned that out of the 10,000 Filipinos in Russia, only 200 of them are documented, while the rest are using “manufactured” visas to work for Russian families.
He said it is high time to forge a labor deal between the Philippines and Russia to maximize the potential of Filipino workers, be able to look after their welfare and be given immediate assistance if necessary.
“ACTS-OFW fully supports the initiative proposed by Speaker Arroyo to enter to a labor agreement with the Russian government in order to help regulate the influx of OFWs and allay fears of deportation from undocumented Filipinos working here,” he said.
Bertiz cited Arroyo’s accurate description of the burdens faced by undocumented OFWs working in Russia, paying as much as USD3,800 for tourist or student visas with threats of arrest from Russian police.
“A strong partnership between the Philippines and Russia sends a positive message to our modern-day heroes, that we continue to look after them and we are working to ensure that they are protected and their government has not forgotten them,” he added.
Bertiz, a former OFW in Saudi Arabia, recalled stories from migrant workers who have been victims of illegal recruiters and human trafficking, saying ACTS-OFW has remained steadfast in calling out such activities and repatriating OFWs back home.
“OFWs in Russia not only contribute to Russia’s development but also the economic growth of the Philippines, through various foreign remittances. This feat should not be left unnoticed and must be secured through mutual agreements,” he stressed.
The ACTS-OFW lawmaker also called on migrant workers in Russia who are in need of immediate assistance to get in touch with their office, as their doors remain open to welcome all migrant workers to provide support while employed abroad.