The Philippine government has been urged to improve protection for Filipino workers in Russia by making a labor agreement with Moscow.

House Speaker and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the majority of Filipinos working in Russia were undocumented, which makes them vulnerable to abuse, arrest and detention, the Manila Bulletin reported.

Arroyo said only 200 Filipinos were documented and about 10,000 were in Russia illegally. She said the undocumented workers pay as much as US$3,800 for improper or manufactured visas.

“They are always on the radar of the police, under constant threat of arrest and deportation. Crimes against them go unreported for fear of deportation. They fall victim to illegal recruiters and human traffickers,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo said a labor agreement between the two countries will serve the interests of the two nations. She said the agreement would allow Filipinos to legally stay and work in Russia.

“What is the solution to maximize the potential of our Filipino workers to contribute to Russian development and investment attractiveness? The solution is a labor agreement between our two countries,” she said.