Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Police will soon make disclosures about a syndicate that was found involved in the case in which Indonesian Hajj pilgrims were caught with fake passports and were consequently detained in the Philippines.

"We are still investigating the case. We have zeroed in on the suspects, and will make the disclosure later," National Police deputy chief, Commissioner General Syafruddin, said here on Tuesday (Sept 13).

Syafruddin stated that the Indonesian Hajj pilgrims were victims of fraud, and were not themselves perpetrators of any crime. Rather, they were victims of organized crime.

He pointed out that the Indonesian police would cooperate with the Philippines authorities to investigate the perpetrators.

"The president has discussed the issue with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during a bilateral meeting," he remarked.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly had earlier noted that around 500 to 700 Indonesians carrying Philippine passports were aiming to travel to Mecca for pilgrimage.

Indonesia has a quota of just 168,000 pilgrims while the Philippine quota is barely utilized.

The minister admitted that he had sent a team to bring home the Indonesian pilgrims caught using fake passports.

On September 4, as many as 168 Indonesians who were stranded in the Philippines in the fake passport case, arrived at the Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport, here.

They returned home by an Air Asia plane that landed at the airport at 11:11 a.m. local time that day.

They were greeted by officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines, immigration officers and the South Sulawesi Governor.

Of them, 94 people were from South Sulawesi, one from West Sulawesi, 15 from Kalimantan, and 58 from Jakarta, Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Johny Josephus Lumintang said upon the arrival of the 168 Indonesians repatriated from Manila.

Nine other Indonesians are still in the Philippines, facing further investigation in the fake passport case. They are now being accommodated in the Indonesian embassys compound, the ambassador informed.

The Indonesian foreign ministry will lobby with the Philippine government to ensure repatriation of these nine Indonesians.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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