A MUSLIM congressman yesterday asked the House committee on foreign affairs to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the reported case of 177 Indonesians who have been caught using Philippine passports to participate in the Hajj Pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu filed House Resolution (HR) No. 258 to investigate the matter as Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente ordered the immediate filing of violation of immigration laws against the Indonesians for reportedly misrepresenting themselves as Filipinos and for being undesirable aliens.
On 19 August 2016 at around 12:30 in the morning, Mangudadatu said 177 Indonesian nationals were arrested by the Immigration authorities for disguising as Filipinos as they attempted to leave in the country to participate the Hajj Pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
“The Indonesians were about to board Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 8969 bound for Madinah, Saudi Arabia when Immigration personnel stopped them, along with five Filipinos who were supposed to accompany them in their trip,” the resolution said.
“The Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that all of the Indonesians were found in possession of genuine Philippine passports that were apparently obtained through fraudulent means and allegedly provided by their Filipino escorts who organized the pilgrimage for $6,000 to $10,000 each person,” the resolution said.
The lawmaker said the passengers’ identities were revealed as they could not speak Tagalog, Maranao, Cebuano or Maguindanao language when interviewed by an immigration officer and could only converse in English.
Based on the initial investigation, Mangudadatu said the Indonesians were given Philippine passports to enable them to join the Hajj Pilgrimage, which will run from September 9 to 14, using the quota reserved for Filipino pilgrims by the Saudi government.
The organizers said that there were no more available Hajj slots for Indonesians, hence they used the quota intended for our Filipino Muslim brothers and sisters.
He said the Indonesians reportedly arrived in the country individually as tourists a few weeks before their scheduled pilgrimage and gave Jolo, Sulu as their address.