MANILA—The Philippines is close to signing a bilateral labor agreement (BLA) with Russia for Filipino migrant workers, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Saturday.
"We are confident that the BLA with Moscow will soon be finalized in line with our commitment to provide protection and support for OFWs as we continue to see increasing demand for our workers in that part of the world," Bello said in a statement.
According to Bello, both countries are keen on signing a BLA amid rising demand for Filipino skilled and semi-skilled workers in Russia, as he cited a report by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Berlin, Germany.
The report said Russia amended a law relating to local employment of local skilled workers in order to accommodate foreign workers.
Last year, Bello mandated the POLO in Berlin to extend its services to cover OFWs in Russia and to actively pursue a BLA with Moscow.
The labor chief said 1,000 OFWs in Russia, mostly female household service workers, have registered for membership with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
"We are elated by their decision to register with OWWA as members, and as such will now allow them to have insurance coverage. Their membership will also enable them to access free skills and entrepreneurship training, not to mention scholarship for their children, return and reintegration preparedness and other programs," Bello said.
The Department of Labor and Employment said the Philippine Embassy in Moscow recently held an outreach program intended to entice OFWs to register or renew their respective membership with OWWA. The embassy is scheduled to conduct another outreach mission for OFWs later next month, the department added.