The 177 Indonesian nationals are scheduled to fly home today after the deportation charges filed against them were dropped by the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
In a resolution, the BI’s board of commissioners stated that the aliens were victims of unscrupulous Filipinos who facilitated their foiled pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia with the use of fraudulently acquired but genuine Philippine passports.
Lawyer Tonette Mangrobang, BI spokesperson, said nine of them will temporarily remain in the country as they were vital witnesses to the complaints filed against their five Filipino escorts whose identities were not disclosed.
The Indonesians reportedly paid up to $10,000 to secure their travel papers.
They were about to board the Philippine Airlines flight bound for Medina, Saudi Arabia when they were apprehended by immigration officers.
Their true identities were exposed as they could not speak Tagalog or any dialect spoken in Mindanao.
They said they arrived individually in the country as tourists shortly before their aborted pilgrimage to the Middle East. (Jun Ramirez)