Philippine gov’t assures Muslim Filipinos of assistance in Hajj
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government has assured Muslim Filipinos of assistance in their annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
In a statement on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo encouraged pilgrims to avail of the “reformed and improved services” of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
Panelo said, “the Office of the President, through the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), has made significant strides in advancing their welfare.” There are 6,000 to 8,000 pilgrims expected to participate in the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca this August.
“The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and we understand that the singular wish of any devout Muslim is to make a special pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime,” he said.
“The Government of the Philippines under the Duterte administration has made that wish a step closer to reality,” he added.
The Palace official said visiting Mecca “has become more affordable,” citing that previously two airlines were given landing rights by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj.
“This year, with the addition of a third airline, a pilgrim will enjoy savings of P11,664 up to P30,214. This level of reduction in the cost of performing the Hajj is unprecedented – a result of our successful negotiation with Saudi Arabian authorities, which waived their 2-airline policy and allowed a third airline to operate with a lower airfare offer,” he said.
He added that “the NCMF has been successful in negotiating with authorities of Saudi Arabia pertaining to the accommodation of Filipino pilgrims.”
Panelo said that in this year’s Hajj, Filipino pilgrims would be billeted only in 4-star and 5-star hotels in Saudi Arabia, “a marked improvement from substandard accommodations in previous years.”
“Under [Duterte’s] leadership and with his commitment of promoting the interests of our Muslim brothers and sisters,” Panelo said, “unauthorized and corrupt add-ons on fees were likewise removed and will never burden the pilgrims from this day forward.”
“We encourage Muslim Filipinos to avail of the reformed and improved services of the NCMF and fulfill their spiritual aspiration of making a special pilgrimage in Saudia Arabia,” he said. /ee
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