DFA to sue groups behind illegal issuance of PH passports for Hajj
MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has warned it will take legal action against unauthorized groups and persons offering to facilitate the travel documents of pilgrims for the Hajj.
It also urged the public to be “extra vigilant” in dealing with such organizations or individuals.
The DFA, in its statement Tuesday, said “It is generally advised that Hajj participants apply for regular passport at least one year before the pilgrimage to ensure that the travel document is ready and on hand at the time of travel.”
The DFA further said that pilgrims could apply for regular passports with any DFA consular office after setting an appointment online and completing documentary requirements.
A Hajj pilgrim may avail of the courtesy lane in the consular offices if he or she is a regular government employee, a dependent of a government worker, a senior citizen, a minor, an incumbent elected official, a retired government employee, a person with disability, or an expectant mother.
Persons with endorsements duly validated by the appropriate DFA offices may also avail of the courtesy lane services.
It was stressed, “Only holders of Philippine passports will be accepted for Hajj processing by Saudi authorities.”
Last August, nearly 200 Indonesians carrying Philippine Hajj passports were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport before they could board a flight to Saudi Arabia.
The Hajj passports were allegedly provided by Filipino organizers, with the Indonesians using the pilgrimage quota given by the Saudi Arabian government reserved for Filipinos. The Indonesians paid
between US$6,000 and US$10,000 for the Philippine Hajj passports.
As a result, the DFA stopped issuing Hajj passports, a special travel document with minimum requirements used only for the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The DFA concluded, “Time and again, the DFA has taken swift administrative investigations on the heels of passport violations in the past and is more determined to ensure that those responsible shall be held accountable for their ill actions.” SFM
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