Wednesday August 22, 2018

Gov't tightens measures for pilgrimage

THE government adopted tight measures to ensure that no other nationalities will join the Filipino pilgrimage contingent to Mecca, Saudi Arabia this year.

Lawyer Yaser Apion, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) regional director, said that as part of the measures the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) suspended the issuance of "Hajj passport" starting this year.

Last year, authorities have intercepted in Manila 23 Indonesian nationals using Filipino Hajj passports while on the way for pilgrimage to Mecca.

It was clarified that they have secured their travel documents from the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Apion said applicants for pilgrimage to Mecca are required to secure the "regular" passport which needs several documentation requirements compared to the Hajj passport.

Apion said even those without authenticated birth certificate can easily secure Hajj passport since they just need to present a joint affidavit of birth.

He said the other measure is the conduct of personal interviews to ensure the applicant for pilgrimage is a "real" Filipino and "has not acquire foreign citizen" or has dual citizenship.

He said some of the applicants for pilgrimage are Filipinos, who had been working abroad for several years already.

Some of the applicants possessed passports issued by the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Apion said the application forms have also been revised as part of the tight measures they adopted for this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, he said the Philippine Government has requested for 6,000 slots for this year's pilgrim to Mecca which is scheduled to be held in August. (SunStar Philippines)