Russia releases 17 detained OFWs

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MANILA, Philippines  –  Ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Moscow next week, Russia has released the 17 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) briefly detained early this month.

The good news was announced by Philippine Ambassador to the Russian Federation Carlos Sorreta; saying 14 of the detained OFWs were finally freed last Wednesday, May 17.

On Friday, Sorreta made an update on his Facebook account about the release of the three remaining Filipinos after they “started making urgent representations with Russian officials” since May 16, the day the OFWs were apprehended.

“In our discussion with Russian authorities, we emphasized that the detainees are victims and not criminals. They are victims of illegal recruitment and should not be punished. They should be set free,” ABS-CBN News quoted Sorreta as saying in a statement.

“Filipinos in Russia obey the law, are hardworking and do not cause problems. There is also a lot of goodwill between the Philippines and Russia today, with increasing prospects for cooperation in a wide range of areas. These factors helped us in securing the release of our Filipinos,” the envoy added.

Sorreta said the Philippine Embassy is still working it out with Russian officials if the detained OFWs would still be able to work in Russia; otherwise they will be repatriated back to the Philippines.

Following the incident, Sorreta advised Filipinos planning to seek employment in Russia to strictly follow the laws of both countries.

“For those already here, please continue to observe the laws of the country, be respectful to lawful authorities and do not call attention to yourselves,” he said.