At Manila airport (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Immigration authorities at Manila's airport on August 19 intercepted 177 Indonesians carrying Philippine passports before they boarded a flight to Saudi Arabia.

Five Filipinos escorting the Indonesians on a hajj pilgrimage were also apprehended as the passengers were about to leave for Medina in Saudi Arabia, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente told the media.

The real but fraudulently obtained passports were allegedly provided by the group's Filipino escorts, Morente said. The Indonesians allegedly paid 6,000 - 10,000 USD each to join the pilgrimage under a quota the Saudi government provides for Filipino pilgrims.

The Immigration chief said the detainees could not speak any Philippine language or dialect, and later admitted to be Indonesians who arrived in the country separately as tourists.

Morente ordered the immediate filing of immigration charges against them for misrepresenting themselves as Filipinos and for being undesirable aliens.

The bureau is coordinating with the Indonesian Embassy in Manila to determine their identities, and with the Department of Foreign Affairs and other law enforcement agencies in investigating the fraudulent issuance of Philippines passports, he added.-VNA