Filipino pilgrims fail to return from World Youth Day

Over 100 Filipino pilgrims who went to Madrid’s World Youth Day have gone missing.

“Fewer than 300 of the 427 delegated have returned,” said Fr Noel Osial, head of Manilia’s Don Bosco parish.

“There are really some who are using this World Youth Day as an avenue (for illegal immigration) because they have relatives already there,” Osial said.

Desperate citizens in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation have been known to use a wide array of tricks to flee deep poverty at home and find higher paying jobs overseas.

Another group posed as members of the Philippines’ national volleyball teams at the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games in Japan.

About nine million Filipinos – a tenth of the population – work legally or illegally abroad.

Father Conegondo Garganta, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Youth that helped the pilgrims secure visas, made a televised appeal for them to come home.

“They should spread the message to those who took part in this pilgrimage to respect our agreement,” Garganta said in an interview aired over GMA television.

The European vista for the escaped Filipino pilgrims run out in two weeks.


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