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Monday, June 24, 2024

Angara asks Senate to inquire into complaints of Hajj pilgrims

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Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said urges the Senate to investigate complaints by Muslim Filipinos on the arrangements and services  by the National Council on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) for the Hajj to find an acceptable and lasting solution for future pilgrimages.

Angara filed Senate Resolution Number 768 calling for an inquiry into the reported incidents on the conduct of the 2023 Hajj, said this issue could also be raised during the hearing on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which has jurisdiction over the NCM.

The filing of the resolution was prompted by complaints reaching the office of the Senator about the sloppy treatment received by Muslim pilgrims to the Hajj from the NCMF, through the Bureau of Pilgrimage and Endowment (BPE).

Based on the accounts of Muslim Filipino pilgrims, including Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan II of Sulu, the pilgrims experienced poor delivery of service from the BPE during their 2023 pilgrimage to Mecca in 2023.

Among the complaints were limited transport buses resulting in to overloading, safety risks, and exposure to extreme heat, as well as densely packed and low-quality accommodations; limited cooling systems in tents despite the heat; insufficient, repetitive, and nutritiously deficient food; and the lack of prepared food for pilgrims on some days. Macon Ramos-Araneta

The pilgrims also ranted how the BPE officer-in-charge stayed in a lavish five-star hotel during the pilgrimage while the NCMF top officials and staff were remiss in their duty to assist Filipino pilgrims.

On June 23, 2023, over 7,000 pilgrims went to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to participate in the annual Hajj.

The Hajj takes place during the same period each year – during the month of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month in the Islamic Calendar. Hajj begins on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah and lasts until the 13th of Dhul Hijjah.

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9997 or the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Act of 2009, the NCMF through the BPE, is mandated to oversee the annual Hajj for Muslim Filipinos residing in the Philippines.

This includes formulating the necessary rules and regulations and coordinating with pertinent offices to ensure the success of the event.

“The Hajj is sacred to all Muslims and is something that every adult Muslim must undergo at least once in a lifetime. It is our obligation to ensure that the arrangements for their pilgrimage are handled properly so that they can focus on the practice of their faith and not be distracted by circumstances that could easily be avoided with proper planning and commitment by all those concerned,” Angara said.

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