A large group of Indonesians were arrested in Manila and sent back to their country after they sought to go to Mecca using Philippine Hajj passports that they purchased through a scam, say media reports.
The Daily Sabah reported that 168 Indonesian pilgrims were deported from the Philippines on Sept. 3 after they were held for several weeks by Filipino immigration for being caught with Philippine Hajj passports that would allow them to travel to Saudi Arabia.
The passports were acquired through “fraudulent means” in exchange for $6,000-10,000 each, reported the Daily Sabah. A further nine people are being held by Filipino police to assist with further enquiries.
Indonesia’s ambassador to the Philippines, Johny Lumintang, told detik.com that large numbers of Indonesians become victims of fraud syndicates that offer opportunities to travel to Saudi Arabia using the unused Hajj quota allocated for the Philippines.
While Indonesia has the world’s largest annual Hajj quota — 200,000 people — the country still has a waiting list of 2 million people.