Philippine Daily Inquirer
The 177 Indonesians who tried to pass themselves off as Filipino pilgrims are now facing deportation proceedings for being “undesirable aliens.”
The Bureau of Immigration said the foreigners were now detained at its detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Metro Manila following their arrest at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“They have been charged for misrepresenting themselves as Filipinos and for being undocumented and undesirable aliens,” confimed BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang.
It may be recalled that the 177 Indonesians were arrested with five Filipinos escorting them to their Philippine Airlines flight before dawn on Friday to Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
Posing as Filipinos with genuine Philippine passports, the foreigners were on their way to the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
What gave away the foreigners’ identity was their inability to speak Filipino, or the Maranao, Cebuano or Maguindanao dialects when interviewed by immigration officers. They could only converse in English.
The BI recovered the genuine Philippine passports from the Indonesians’ possession, who admitted to paying US$6,000 to $10,000 to join the sacred pilgrimage.
The Indonesians used the quota reserved for Filipino pilgrims to the Hajj given by the government of Saudi Arabia, since there were no more available Hajj slots for Indonesians.
Mangrobang said the BI was coordinating with the Indonesian Embassy to ascertain the identities of the foreigners before they were deported, as well as with the Department of Foreign Affairs and other law enforcement agencies in investigating the fraudulent issuance of Philippine passports to foreigners.
She added that the agency had not yet set a date for the deportation of the Indonesians back to their home country.
“No date for deportation yet as we need to ascertain their identities, clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation would have to be secured prior to their actual deportation,” Mangrobang said.
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