Saturday, 30 April 2011 11:29
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) began its annual Hajj and Umrah Awareness Program in Zamboaga City last April 19, 2011. Under the leadership of NCMF Secretary Bai Omera D. Lucman, there is now an emphasis on consultation with all stakeholders – local government officials, murshids (guides), learned scholars, pilgrims and NCMF employees – to improve the hajj or pilgrimage operation.
Led by Commissioner Solaiman Mutia, the program has provided a venue to interact with all stakeholders. In the Zamboanga consultation, Comm. Mutia provided an update of the NCMF preparation to the murshids from Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. He reported on the recent visit of Secretary Lucman and other top NCMF officials to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to coordinate with Saudi officials on the hajj.
In their meeting with the Deputy Minister for Hajj, they were told to resolve the problem of overseas Filipino workers joining the official Philippine hajj delegation. The Deputy Minister strongly requested that the murshids be strictly accredited in order to have faithful compliance of hajj rules and regulations. He apologized about the problem of food distribution delay in Arafat last year. Aside from the inexperience of the group in charge of the food, there was a disruption in the water supply which affected the timely preparation of the meals.
In the meeting with the Deputy Minister for Umrah, it was emphasized that all pilgrims must go home after hajj. In previous years, there were pilgrims that stayed in Saudi as illegal aliens. He informed the group about the imposition of an official luggage size with specific dimensions that could carry a maximum of 32 kilos. As a bonus, the NCMF delegation met with Riyadh Governor Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz. He committed to help the NCMF in its mandate of serving the Muslim Filipinos.
In my view, there will never be a perfect hajj operation. There will be complaints about the trip, the housing, the fees and the officials. The most important task for the NCMF is to keep the cost down and to be transparent about the process and the fees.
The flooding of Jolo remains. The people of Jolo continue to suffer. We are still awaiting a forceful and effective response that will finally solve the Jolo flooding problem.
Under the leadership Mr. Amir Mawallil, the Young Moro Professionals Network-Western Mindanao will hold a General Membership Assembly on Sunday, May 1 at the Le Jardin Room, Marcian Hotel, Zamboanga City.
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BY ATTY. EDIL BADDIRI
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