HAJJ. Pilgrims from around the world perform the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Photo courtesy of Saudi Arabia's Hajj Ministry)
DAVAO CITY -- The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) on Friday reminded Muslim pilgrims that the deadline for payment of Hajj fees had been set on the same day.
“As we near the Philippine quota of 6,000 slots, all intending pilgrims and their respective sheikhs are reminded that today is the deadline for Hajj mutawif payments. There will be no more extension for payments as ordered by Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan to give ample time for the NCMF (EDP unit) employees to input the data in the E-portal before its closure on May 5,” Dr. Dimapuno Datu Ramos Jr., the director of the NCMF's Bureau of External Relations, said.
Datu Ramos said as of Friday, the number of registered pilgrims has reached 5,726.
“Aside from that, there are reserved slots for the 32 raffle winners from Task Force Bangon Marawi, the 50 Amerul Hajj entourage, 50 VIPs, and 90 supervisory and medical team members, bringing the total pilgrims to 5,948, which is a mere 52 slots away from the Philippine quota for 2019,” he said.
Datu Ramos said the number of pilgrims for this year has increased compared to last year's 5,800.
He said Northern Mindanao, with the Lanao provinces, had the highest number of pilgrims for this year at 2,089, followed by the Zamboanga-Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan areas at 1,751. The Cotabato/Gensan/Davao areas had combined registered pilgrims of 1365, while the National Capital Region and Palawan had a total of 521.
“For 2019, there are 14 recognized travel agencies and 236 NCMF-accredited sheikhs. There will be 12 Saudia Airline flights from July 10 to July 15, with two flights leaving every day. There will be 19 Oman Air flights every day from July 10 to July 31,” Datu Ramos said. “The excellent turnout of pilgrims may be attributed to the efficient and smooth information drive and operations of the Bureau of Pilgrimage and Endowments, concurrently headed by Secretary Pangarungan and overseen by BPE Chief of Operations Zainuden Usudan.”
Pangarungan will serve as this year's Amerul Hajj or head based on Republic Act 9997, which automatically designates the current NCMF Secretary as Head of Delegation.
The Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca and Madina in Saudi Arabia is one of the five pillars of Islam and is prescribed for those who can afford it.
The Saudi government also regularly sponsors poor Muslims from across the globe so they can perform the Hajj, which will take place in August this year. (PNA)