Hataman

Transfer of hajj services to private sector urged

September 18, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 412 views

TAON-TAON na lang, daan-daan kung hindi man libo-libong Pilipinong Muslim ang laman ng balita na stranded o dumadaan sa matinding paghihirap sa kanilang pagganap ng hajj dulot ng hindi maayos na serbisyo ng NCMF. Baka panahon nang ikunsidera nating ibigay na lang ito sa pribadong sektor.”

Deputy Minority Leader and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman filed a bill seeking to remove the powers and functions of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) over the annual hajj administration that has been characterized by incompetence over the past several years.

“Ang taunang pilgrimage sa Holy City of Makkah sa Saudi Arabia ay isa sa mga sagradong haligi ng pananampalatayang Islam. Pinag-iipunan yan ng ating mga kababayang Muslim kasi napakapalad nila pag nagawa nila yan nang minsan sa kanilang buhay. But instead of a meaningful experience, they face hardships and difficulties,” said Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct ARMM.

“Katulad ngayon taon at noong nakaraang taon, napakaraming ulat na naman ng na-stranded na Pilipino Muslim pilgrims dito sa mga paliparan sa Maynila at sa Saudi mismo. Walang matuluyan, walang makain at walang tulong na natatanggap,” he added.

House Bill No. 9096 entitled “The NCMF Reform Act of 2023” seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9997 to remove the administration of the hajj from the NCMF and allow the private sector to handle the hajj services for Filipino Muslim pilgrims.

Section 2 of the measure states that: “The NCMF shall no longer perform any powers and functions relative to the administration of hajj except to register and accredit sheiks, who are private individuals or entities engaged in facilitating, processing, and providing guidance for the annual hajj for Muslim Filipinos in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.”

Further, Section 3 of HB 9096 amends Section 15 of RA 9997 that defines the powers of the hajj attaché, saying “ … The Hajj Attache shall coordinate with the Ministry of Hajj of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on matters pertaining to the conduct of the annual Hajj where government-to-government action is necessary including certification as to change of Pilgrims’s name, but not to intervene in the administration, conduct, facilitation or processing of hajj for Muslim Filipinos … ”

“The recent issues surrounding the plight of Filipino Muslim pilgrims during the 2023 Hajj in Saudi Arabia brought to light, yet again, the years of poor treatment of Filipino pilgrims suffering from poor living conditions, delayed and substandard meals, and delayed transportation, among others,” the measure’s explanatory note read.

“These services are provided or facilitated by the NCMF; a service Filipino Pilgrims paid for at high costs. The conduct, processing and facilitation of the hajj for Muslim Filipinos should be left to the competence of the private sector whose expertise and experiences in hajj would ensure that our pilgrims will be provided with the best services. This bill aims to do just that,” it added.

Hataman said in some countries, especially where Muslims are a minority, the hajj administration is given solely to the private sector. But in countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, it is split between the public and private sector.

“Sa ating karanasan sa NCMF, mukhang wala talaga itong kakayahan na patakbuhin ng maayos ang taunang hajj administration. Kaya dapat siguro ay tingnan na natin o pag-aralan na ibigay na lamang ito sa pribadong sektor,” the Basilan lawmaker said.

“Pag nasa private sector na yan, naniniwala akong mas magiging maayos na ang pagganap ng hajj para sa ating mga kababayan. At kung may sakali mang pumalpak at mahirapan uli ang ilan sa ating kababayan, madaling habulin sa korte at pagbayarin ng danyos,” he continued.

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