They are expected to return from Saudi Arabia via Manila between September 18 and 30, 2016.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A special team to deal with the return of hundreds of Indonesian pilgrims who performed the Hajj with passports illegally obtained from the Philippines has been assigned by Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi.

The team, led by the director of the Protection of Indonesian Citizens and Legal Entities Indonesia (PWNI-BHI), Foreign Affairs Ministry, Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, has co-ordinated with the Philippine authorities to prepare for the early repatriation of the Indonesian citizens.

They are expected to return from Saudi Arabia via Manila between September 18 and 30, 2016.

"The Philippine pilgrims are scheduled to arrive in Manila on September 19 in three kloter that carry 1.049 pilgrims," Iqbal said in a written statement received by ANTARA here Thursday night.

"Of these, there are indications of hundreds of foreign nationals who are using illegal Philippine passports, including some from Indonesia," Iqbal added.

On September 14, a special team from the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry held a marathon meeting with the task force formed by the Philippine government to address this issue.

Meanwhile, the repatriation process of the 177 Indonesian pilgrims in the Philippines must be speeded up and they should be given dignified treatment, the ministry stressed at the meeting.

"In the case of the 177 citizens, we need two more weeks to repatriate them," Iqbal said.

"As for the others, we are trying to do our best so that the citizens could return in three to four days after arriving in Manila," he added.

In this case, both the government of Indonesia and the Philippines agreed that the Indonesian pilgrims were victims and that they could return to the country as soon as possible after their arrival in Manila.

To ensure that the repatriation of the hundreds of citizens is carried out in quick time, Retno is in touch with Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay Jr.

In addition to assigning the special team of the PWNI-BHI to the Indonesian ambassador in the Philippines, the foreign ministry is also planning to dispatch a technical assistance team comprising representatives from the Directorate General of Immigration, Justice and Human Rights Ministry, Religious Affairs Ministry and the Indonesian National Police.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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