The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) will provide enhanced services and more affordable options for those who wish to visit the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia during Muslim tradition of Hajj pilgrimage.
The NCMF, under the Office of the President, facilitated the availability of an exclusive airline which was authorized the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj.
“For 2019, visiting Mecca has become more affordable. Before, only two airlines were given landing rights by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said that with the addition of a third airline this year, a Hajj pilgrim can have savings of PHP11,664 up to PHP30,214.
“This level of reduction in the cost of performing the Hajj is unprecedented – a result of our successful negotiation with Saudi Arabian authorities which waived their two-airline policy and allowed a third airline to operate with a lower airfare offer,” Panelo said.
“We encourage Muslim Filipinos to avail of the reformed and improved services of the NCMF and fulfill their spiritual aspiration of making a special pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia,” Panelo said.
Panelo said that the NCMF also negotiated with the Saudi Arabian government to provide better accommodation to Filipino pilgrims.
“In this year’s Hajj, Filipino pilgrims will be billeted only in 4-star and 5-star hotels in Saudi Arabia, a marked improvement from substandard accommodations in previous years,” Panelo said.
The said accommodations will be free of unauthorized and corrupt add-on fees.
“Under PRRD’s leadership and with his commitment of promoting the interests of our Muslim brothers and sisters, unauthorized and corrupt add-ons on fees were likewise removed and will never burden the pilgrims from this day forward,” Panelo said.
Emphasizing the government’s achievements in making “significant strides” in advancing the welfare of Muslim Filipinos, Panelo said the Duterte administration gives great importance to the Hajj as one of the five pillars of Islam.
“We understand that the singular wish of any devout Muslim is to make a special pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime,” Panelo said.
6,000 to 8,000 pilgrims are expected to be performing the Hajj, the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia where Muslim adults must visit at least once in their lifetime.
The fifth of the Muslim practices known as the Five Pillars of Islam, the Hajj pilgrimage begins on the last month of the Islamic year and ends on the 12th day usually on the second until the third week of August.