A senior member of the House of Representatives on Monday sought a better system for Muslims who are on the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman said he would call for a legislative review of the system in the wake of reports of the alleged failure of the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) to secure travel visas for many Hajj pilgrims who are now stranded in Metro Manila.
“One of the most important life experiences of Muslims is the Hajj. For those who are fortunate enough to go on pilgrimage at least once in their lives. Reports that many of them fail to go due to the mistakes or omissions of a few is disheartening,” Hataman, who represents Basilan, said.
He cited the need for the review to assess the process of coordination being done with the NCMF on Hajj.
“The Congress should know why these incidents happen. Funds for this purpose has been provided to the NCMF. Why do these problems keep popping up? We should hold accountable all those responsible for this mess,” Hataman, also the former governor of the now-defunct ARMM, said.
“It seems that we have to review the procedures at the NCMF regarding the Hajj to remedy the situation and determine accountability,” Hataman added.
He said that private sector participation in organizing the pilgrimages, just like in other countries, will also be looked into during the investigation.
One of the mandates of NCMF is to coordinate, through its Bureau of Pilgrimage and Endowment, the Hajj pilgrimage of Muslim Filipinos and aid in their travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, the flights bound for KSA last June 19, 20 and 21 were canceled, leaving nearly a thousand pilgrims stranded.
Hataman called on the NCMF and concerned government agencies such as local governments and the BARMM to look into the situation of Muslim pilgrims now stranded and facing uncertainties.
“Moral governance requires us to be pro-active in looking after the welfare of these stranded Muslim pilgrims,” he said.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is extremely important to all Muslims. It involves a five-day ritual and a pilgrimage to their holy place of Mecca in KSA.