Issuance of hajj passports suspended—Yasay
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. announced on Tuesday the suspension of the issuance of hajj passports following interception of 177 Indonesians last August 19 using Philippine passports.
According to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Charles Jose, the secretary will be seeking the permanent suspension of the passports which require the “barest” requirements to acquire.
These are special travel documents specifically issued for the pilgrimage to Mecca and are different from regular passports.
Jose said that Yasay made the announcement during the budget hearing on Tuesday at the House of Representatives.
The DFA spokesperson said in a text message that the suspension of the hajj passport is “precisely in response to the case of 177 Indonesians using Philippine passports.”
He further said, “The suspension is temporary but the secretary of foreign affairs is contemplating to make it permanent through legislation.”
The department is conducting its own probe on the interception of 177 Saudi Arabia-bound “fake Filipinos” at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Initial information received by the department found the foreigners carrying hajj passports, which are issued to Filipino pilgrims to Mecca. The Indonesians, agency officials said, could have resorted to getting Philippine passports using fake documents because they can no longer be accommodated in their country’s pilgrimage quota. RAM/rga
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