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1,712 PHL pilgrims reach Mecca

Manila, Philippines – One-thousand seven-hundred twelve Filipino pilgrims for Hajj 2011 out of the 5,244 who registered have reached Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in the last four days, with 505 scheduled to travel today to perform the fifth pillar of Islam.

The hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage, is obligatory to adult Muslims who are financially capable. For 2011, the five-day ritual is expected to start on November 4. Figures from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) that handles the processing of pilgrims’ documents showed that they left in batches last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

NCMF Secretary Bai Omera D. Dianalan Lucman said that 505 pilgrims are scheduled today to leave for Jeddah, the gateway to Saudi Arabia’s holy cities. Lucman said most of the pilgrims from the Philippines are traveling via Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA), while the rest are on various airlines as Republic Act (RA) No. 9997 that created NCMF mandates an open airline and open travel agency policy. (Edd K. Usman)