14 detained OFWs in Russia released

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 19) — Fourteen detained overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Moscow were released, Wednesday, according to the Philippine embassy in Russia.

Three more Filipinos remained detained, but Philippine Ambassador to the Russian Federation Carlos Sorreta said they "started making urgent representations with Russian officials" since the 17 were apprehended in May 16.

"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," Ambassador Sorreta said.

Sorreta said they made sure the workers were provided with food and treated well while in detention.

The Ambassador also said the good relationship between Russia and the Philippines helped them secure the release of the detained workers.

READ: Duterte eyes 'best of friends' status between Philippines and Russia

President Rodrigo Duterte met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in November 2016 in a bilateral meeting.

READ: Duterte meets with Putin, Xi at APEC Economic Leaders' Summit

The two are set to meet again on May 25, where Duterte will also meet the Filipino community in Russia.

READ: Duterte to visit Russia on May 25

"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," Sorreta added.

He also said the Philippine embassy was trying to get the released Filipinos to stay in Russia to continue their work.

"For those who will not be allowed to stay, the Philippine Embassy will prepare their documentation, assist in the necessary government clearances and provide airfare," the ambassador said.

According to a Russian publication, there are around 8,000 Filipinos in the country as of 2013.

READ: 'The Russians are with me, so I can't be afraid' — Duterte