By: Jim Lloyd Dongiapon
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) has issued an official statement regarding the cancellation of flights bound to Saudi Arabia scheduled on June 19, 20, and 21, and the issuance of Hajj visas.
The commission vowed to fast-track the issuance of visas to all pilgrims that are yet to depart for the Hajj, with prioritization for those who were stranded.
Moreover, new flights for pilgrims will be scheduled, and the commission will provide financial assistance to stranded pilgrims for their extended stay.
NCMF Commissioner Yusoph J. Mando also said that Secretary Guiling Mamondiong has conferred with the Hajj Ministry, Moassassa, and service providers since late Monday evening, June 20, given the time difference between Philippines and Saudi Arabia.
This has resulted in the continuation of Hajj visa issuances through the reopening of the East London Mosque (ELM) portal.
The secretary has also talked with Philippine Airlines, Saudia Air, Oman Air and Qatar Airways for the new flight schedules subject to the conditions agreed upon by the NCMF and the said airline companies regarding the cost and other incidental expenses, if there is any.
The commission has promised that the NCMF, through the pilgrims’ respective Sheikhs of the pilgrims, will provide financial assistance for the hotel accommodation and food expenses of the stranded pilgrims through the offices of Commissioners Yusoph Mando, Datu Ras Lidasan, Jr., and Dra. Anna Kharima Mindalano-Lao.
Pligrims have to arrive to Saudi Arabia before the end of the current month.
The annual Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is the pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Muslims who have the means and capabilities of doing so shall undertake it at least once in their lifetime.
This will be the first time in two years that Filipino Muslims will take part in the annual Hajj since their participation was hampered by the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hajj this year will begin on the evening of July 7 (Thursday), and will end on July 12 (Tuesday).