Undocumented Filipinos Assisted by the PH Embassy in Moscow to Return Home

Moscow ATN

Third Secretary and Vice Consul Catherine F. Alpay (rightmost) and Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Officer Christian Baggas of the Philippine Embassy in Moscow brief four Filipinos on 4 February 2019 at the Embassy prior to their repatriation to the Philippines. The four Filipinos voluntarily surrendered to Russian police authorities for overstaying, and were among the first batch in 2019 to receive repatriation assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy. (C. Caldez photo)

MOSCOW 07 February 2019 – The Philippine Embassy in Moscow recently provided assistance to a group of Filipinos who sought voluntary repatriation due to overstaying in Russia after the expiration of their visa.

Since the beginning of 2019, the Embassy has assisted eight Filipinos through the voluntary repatriation program.

The Embassy has also taken into its Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) shelter several Filipinos awaiting repatriation. In 2018, the Embassy’s ATN section, facilitated the voluntary repatriation of some 130 Filipinos, through the Department of Foreign Affairs.

According to Ambassador to Russia Carlos D. Sorreta, the protection and promotion of the welfare of Filipinos in Russia has always been a top priority, “We take in and help Filipinos who fear arrest due to their undocumented status and wish to return home to start anew. Through funds provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs–Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, we facilitate the voluntary repatriation of these Filipinos. We also provide temporary accommodation in our ATN shelter if they have nowhere else to go while they wait to be repatriated.”

Majority of the Filipinos who seek the Embassy’s repatriation assistance are illegally recruited and did not go undergo the proper deployment procedure for overseas Filipino workers. Through the voluntary repatriation program, the Embassy is able to ensure that the rights and well-being of Filipino nationals are protected as they prepare to exit Russia in the legal way.

“Filipinos who continue to stay in Russia without a valid visa are in an unsafe situation that is further fueled by fear. There is the fear of being arrested and not being able to communicate with Russian police authorities due to the language barrier. Illegally-recruited and undocumented Filipinos are also deprived of a lot of basic services such as access to public health services and even certain modes of transportation,” Ambassador Sorreta added.

On the persistent issue of illegal recruitment among Filipinos in Russia, the Embassy continues to warn Filipinos that taking on informal jobs without any legal contract puts them at risk of being overworked, unable to retrieve unpaid salaries, and above all, unable to get the proper work visa support from their employer. Illegal recruitment is a serious issue that creates a high-risk environment where Filipino workers are more vulnerable and in danger of becoming victims of abuse.

The Embassy calls on all Filipinos to stop supporting and participating in illegal recruitment activities. END

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