Philippine stops issuing hajj passports to Muslim pilgrims: FM

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/8/30 13:51:51

The Philippines has stopped issuance of hajj passports for Muslim pilgrims after detention of more than 170 Indonesians who used fake documents and saw Manila as a transit to participate in the Hajj Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, the country's top diplomat said on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay told a congressional hearing that the issuance of hajj passports has become a source of corruption in the Foreign Department.

"This has really been the source of these fraudulent transactions and corruption," he said, adding the use of these passports has been abused.

Because of this the secretary said the government is mulling suspension of the issuance of this kind of documents for good. The hajj passports is a special travel document issued to pilgrims to Mecca, according to the Foreign Department.

On Aug. 19, Philippine immigration agents detained at least 177 Indonesian nationals who attempted to leave the Philippines allegedly using the hajj passports. Also detained were the Filipino escorts who apparently facilitated the issuance of such passports.

Initial investigation showed the Indonesians paid 6,000 to 10,000 US dollars each to obtain the travel documents. Immigration authorities said that the Indonesians used the quota reserved for Filipino pilgrims by the Saudi government after the hajj slots reserved for Indonesia have been taken.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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