ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 9 July) – The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) said the travel of pilgrims for the Hadj will push through despite calls to defer due to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) affecting Saudi Arabia.
Macderul Sangkula, NCMF regional director, said Wednesday the pilgrims have already decided and they will go on pilgrimage whatever problems may come their way.
Sangkula said they appreciated the advice given by Health Secretary Enrique Ona since it shows the health official is concerned about the situation of Muslim Filipinos going on pilgrimage.
“But then, if that virus (MERS-CoV) is really very dangerous, I think the very office that should give advice is the government of Saudi Arabia through the Ministry of Health,” Sangkula said.
He added they will not go on pilgrimage once the government of Saudi Arabia will advise them through the Philippine government not to push through.
Sangkula said the Saudi government will advise all Muslims around the world to forgo with this year’s pilgrimage if the MERS-CoV is really dangerous.
He said that a total of 2,852 pilgrims from the areas of Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (ZamBaSulTa) are going on pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Sangkula said that 1,183 of 2,852 pilgrims from ZamBaSulTa are from this city
The first batch of pilgrims are set to depart for Saudi Arabia on September 5, he said.
Cases of MERS-CoV infection was first discovered in Saudi Arabia.
The DOH is apprehensive that the pilgrims might serve as MERS-CoV carriers upon their return to the country if and when they will be infected with the virus while on Hadj.
Meanwhile, the City Health Office is set to conduct a seminar for the pilgrims on how to protect themselves against MERS-CoV infection.
Dr. Rodelin Agbulos, City Health Officer, said he has already coordinated with second district Rep. Lilia Nuño to set the schedule of the seminar.
Agbulos said the seminar will be conducted before they will depart for Mecca.