Sen. Binay seeks Senate inquiry into P200-M hajj passport scam
Sen. Nancy Binay has called for a legislative inquiry into the issuance of Philippine passports to Indonesians traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Islamic hajj piligrimage, saying it had placed national security at risk.
Through Senate Resolution No. 111, Binay urged the Senate to investigate an incident where Philippine passports were issued to 177 Indonesians. She said the anomaly may have involved P200 million, as earlier news reports placed the price tag on the hajj passports at P25,000 each.
“It was reported that this elaborate scheme costs each Indonesian from $6000 to $10,000 each and thus may involve the greasing of hands inside relevant agencies with jurisdiction over the hajj travelers,” Binay said in a statement.
She said “the fraudulent processing and issuance of hajj passports to non-Filipino undermines national security and exposes the Philippines to increasing risk of terrorism.”
Earlier this month, 177 Indonesians were arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport during an immigration check on their way to a flight to Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj pilgrimage.
The Indonesians were found to be carrying Philippine hajj passports, a special type of travel document issued to those undertaking the pilgrimage to the Islamic holy site, a mandatory duty for Muslims.
The issuance is bound by quotas, and so those of other nationalities who could not be accommodated under their own country’s annual hajj passport issuance limits resort to the acquisition of fake documents.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is already conducting an investigation. Last week, Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu also called for a House inquiry, saying the issuance of the hajj passport to foreign nationas was a violation of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996. /rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.