MANILA, Philippines – Immigration authorities at Manila's airport have intercepted 177 Indonesians en route to Saudi Arabia carrying Philippine passports.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente says five Filipinos escorting the Indonesians on a hajj pilgrimage were also detained as the passengers were about to board their flight to Medina.
He said Friday the Indonesians carried fraudulently obtained but genuine Philippine passports allegedly provided by their Filipino escorts. They allegedly paid $6,000-$10,000 each to join the pilgrimage using quota reserved by the Saudi government for Filipino pilgrims.
Morente says the passengers' identities were revealed because they could not speak any Philippine language or dialect and could only converse in English. They later admitted to be Indonesians and that they arrived in the country separately as tourists.