Bureau of Immigration (BI) operatives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have intercepted 15 Indonesians and four Malaysians who earlier left the country disguised as Filipinos.
The apprehension followed few days of strictly monitoring the arrival of returning Haji pilgrims from Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that seven of the 15 Indonesians were intercepted at the NAIA 2 terminal on Sept. 22 while seven others were stopped at the NAIA 1 on Sept. 24.
The four Malaysians and a lone Indonesian also arrived at the NAIA 2 last Sunday.
Morente said BI intelligence agents were able to identify the Indonesians after their presence aboard the planes was reported by three of their compatriots who are sheiks and traveled with them.
“The sheikhs readily admitted that they were traveling with other Indonesians with assumed Filipino names and Philippine passports,” the BI chief said.
He added that the three Muslim elders were turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which will probe their possible involvement in the passport scam.
As for the Malaysians, Morente said their identities were revealed after they were subjected to intense evaluation by immigration officers upon their arrival.
From the airport, the foreigners were brought to Villamor Golf and Country Club to undergo debriefing and questioning by an inter-agency task force composed of representatives from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice, BI, NBI, and the Indonesian and Malaysian embassies in Manila.
They were subsequently released on recognizance to their embassies which will arrange their repatriation and give them their travel documents. (Jun Ramirez)