Friday, October 31, 2008

January 15, 2008

Filipino pilgrims in Jeddah advised to return home before visa lapses
01/15/2008 11:24 PM

The Philippine consulate general in Jeddah has advised Filipino pilgrims to leave Saudi Arabia before their Hajj visa expires.Consul General Ezzedin Tago said he has asked his men to check the veracity of a newspaper report in Manila that at least 200 pilgrims have opted to stay in the kingdom to seek employment.

"To all our Filipino pilgrims, please comply with the condition of the Hajj visa and return to the Philippines before your visa expires," Tago said as he instructed Hajj attaché Sol Mutya to make sure that all Filipino pilgrims heed his call.Mutya explained however that it would be unfair to say that pilgrims who have not returned to the Philippines were in Saudi Arabia to look for jobs, which is in violation of their visa conditions.According to him, 2, 036 of the 4, 871 pilgrims have remained in the kingdom because they were still awaiting their flight schedules.Some 2, 835 pilgrims who participated in last month’s Hajj in Mecca have already returned to Manila.

Mutya said pilgrims should leave Saudi Arabia on or before January 18. There were some Filipinos however who could only be accommodated in the Jan 21 flight.Among the prominent personalities who went to Mecca to perform Hajj were former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste and her daughter Toni; Representatives Mujiv Hataman (Anak Mindanao party-list) and Yusuf H. Jikiri of Sulu; Governors Andal Ampatuan of Maguindanao, Sakur Tan of Sulu, and Sadikul A. Sahali of Tawi-Tawi; Bureau of Immigration Intelligence Chief Faisal Hussein; and, Datu Ali B. Sangki , executive director of the Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA).

Hajj 2007 was headed by the Amirul Hajj Commissioner Salic B. Dumarpa of the National Labor Relations Commission and Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr, presidential special envoy.During the Hajj season, three pilgrims died of natural causes.

One pilgrim was apprehended at the airport in Jeddah because of discrepancies in her passport entries. The Philippine Consulate hosted a Hajj night in honor of the Hajjis on December 24. - Ronaldo Concha, GMANews.TV

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