700 Indonesians Went to Mecca on Philippine Passports

Jakarta, 07 Dzulhijjah 1437/09 September 2016 (MINA) – Around 500 to 700 Indonesians carrying Philippine passports are expected to return to their country from Saudi Arabia later this month after joining the hajj.

They are separate from the 177 Indonesians who were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport when they were about to board a flight to Madinah in Saudi Arabia supposedly to proceed to Mecca for the Muslim pilgrimage.

A source told The STAR the matter would be brought up during the expanded bilateral meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo Friday afternoon at the State Palace.

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Duterte arrived here last night after attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and related summits in Laos for a two-day working visit.

Aside from Widodo, Duterte is also set to meet with the Filipino community this morning at the Shangri-La Hotel.

The 500 to 700 Indonesians were apparently able to slip by Philippine immigration authorities because of the passports they obtained and would reportedly fly back to Manila from Jeddah.

The source said it would only be from Manila that the Indonesians would again use their Indonesian passports and return to their country.

The use of Philippine passports to travel to Mecca is said to have become a lucrative racket because Indonesia only has a quota of 168,000 pilgrims while the Philippine quota is barely utilized.

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Under Indonesian rule, those who are caught illegally assuming other nationalities will be stripped of of their Indonesian identity, according to the source.

But under such circumstances, the government treats them as victims rather than criminals.

“It is not their fault that they are being duped by enterprising individuals who want to make money out of their desire to perform hajj,” the source added. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)