Filipino Muslims in Makkah region happy with Duterte appointees

Filipino Muslims in Makkah region happy with Duterte appointees
The Philippines' Haj delegation head for this year, lawyer Guiling Mamondiong.
Updated 30 August 2016

Filipino Muslims in Makkah region happy with Duterte appointees

Filipino Muslims in Makkah region happy with Duterte appointees

MAKKAH: Filipino Muslim leaders in Makkah region are elated over the appointment of two Muslims to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.
Ahmad Ali “Datths” Piang Alonto, founding chairman of the Bangsamoro OverSeas Solidarity (BOSS), said the appointment of lawyers Abdullah Mama-o as a Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs and Muslim Concerns and Guiling Mamondiong as the head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is a welcome move.
Rolly Allano, chairman of the Bangsa Maguindanaon Group, said he is optimistic that the two Muslim cabinet secretaries would help forge stronger ties and more reforms on the labor agreements between the government of Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.
In a press statement, the community also welcomed the appointment of Mamondiong as this year’s Amirul Haj or head of the Philippine Haj pilgrims.
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which is due to have a new head, is expecting a smooth flow in processing Haj documents following the exposure of a scam involving the sale of Philippine Haj slots to foreign nationals.
Earlier this month, 177 would-be members of the Philippine Haj delegation were stopped at the airport in Manila from departing for Saudi Arabia after they were found to be Indonesians illegally possessing Philippine passports.
Five Filipinos who were supposed to escort them were also detained and placed under investigation.
Members of the Filipino Muslim community say the sale of Philippine Haj slots to foreigners had long been an open secret but it’s only now under Duterte’s leadership that officials had taken action against it. They said the scam had deprived many poor Filipino Muslims a chance to perform Haj.
Meanwhile, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has set up special flights to the Kingdom to serve the travel needs of those taking part in the Haj pilgrimage to Makkah.
"We are heeding the clamor of our Muslim brothers and sisters for a convenient link to a destination in the Middle East which will serve as their gateway to Makkah. PAL looks forward to be their official carrier as they fulfill this annual religious tradition," PAL President and COO Jaime J. Bautista said in a post on the Philippine Airlines website.