MANILA, Philippines - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday ordered 128 Philippine delegates to the World Youth day (WYD) remaining in Spain to return to the country lest they become illegal aliens in Europe.
Fr. Conegondo Garganta, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY), said 299 of the 427 delegates who attended the 26th WYD in Madrid, Spain from Aug. 16 to 21 have already returned.
The remaining 30 percent of the delegation have not yet returned to the country, becoming potential illegal aliens.
“If they do not return to the Philippines, it would affect our relationship with the consulate because we asked a favor (the approval of the visa) and they asked us that we use the permission they gave us appropriately.
The trust that was established during our meetings with them, so that they would give us the permission, our image would be ruined if the WYD delegates decide to violate the terms and conditions of their travel to Spain,” Garganta said.
He said that so far, there are still no reports of members of the delegation becoming illegal aliens because their Schengen visas do not expire until September.
Garganta admitted that in the past, there had been instances when WYD delegates sent by the CBCP failed to return to the country but these comprised only one percent of the delegation.
He believes the Spanish embassy is aware of this occurrence because in one of his meetings with the embassy he was asked, “How many do you think will stay (behind in Spain)?”
Garganta replied that the CBCP has no desire to have any delegate stay behind in Spain after the event.
He said the delegates, aged between 15 to 30 years old, underwent a background check by their respective parishes.
“They were endorsed by their parish priest and they were chosen because they saw their intentions to join the WYD. They were interviewed, selected and they also had to pass the scrutiny of the diocese and the ECY,” Garganta said.
Some of the applicants were turned down because of inconsistencies in the documents they presented which, Garganta said, served as a warning to deny their application.