A BIG group of Indonesians was stopped by Immigration authorities from boarding their flight to Saudi Arabia on Friday morning after they were caught using Philippine passports.
An immigration officer at terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport said the Indonesians were able to check in for Philippine Airlines flight PR8689 bound for Medina, Saudi Arabia, allegedly to attend the annual hajj Muslim pilgrimage.
Of 185 passengers supposed to be on that flight, only eight were Filipinos, and the rest were Indonesians.
The Bureau of Immigration said the foreigners were dressed like Filipinos when they lined up for passport clearance.
Immigration officers thought the group was composed of Filipinos because they were carrying genuine Philippine passports, allegedly issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.
However, when the officers greeted them in Filipino, no one was able to answer back in the same language, and no one was able to understand Filipino when asked questions.
This prompted immigration officers to put all passengers on hold including the eight Filipino citizens.
An immigration source said it could not be established if human trafficking or illegal recruitment was involved, but the case is being considered a matter of national security.
Immigration and the National Bureau of Investigation are conducting an investigation to identify the persons involved in the issuance of Philippine passports to the 177 Indonesians, who reportedly arrived in Manila on separate dates only this week.