By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Six Filipino pilgrims succumbed to various ailments while in journey for this year’s hajj in the Holy Lands of Saudi Arabia, according to the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
“There were five males and one female, with ages ranging from 47 to 78 years old, who had various medical and surgical conditions that prompted emergency interventions from both the Philippine medical team members as well as their foreign counterparts in Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia,” Dr. Esmael A. Abdul, head of the 2018 NCMF Hajj Philippine Medical Team, said in a report.
Those who died were Casana Dirimbangun, 64, female from Ramain, Lanao del Sur; Acmad Macacona, 59, male, also from Lanao del Sur; Malik Maliga Daraba, 47, male from Buldon, Maguindanao; Faisal Balatucal, 73, male from Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur; Akbar Kamid, 70, male from General Santos City; and Haron Abilusa, 78, male, also from Maguindanao.
Relatives in the Philippines of the ill-fated pilgrims were properly informed on time, the NCMF report said.
In an earlier interview by the Manila Bulletin, NCMF spokesman Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos said proper screening processes among this year’s hajj goers were conducted, but some aged pilgrims with histories of medical concern with consent from relatives insisted to be included in the journey.
Some hajj leaders (sheikhs) claimed that majority pilgrims were abiding by the traditional belief on dying in the Holy Lands on account of “Divine advantages” especially in the life hereafter.
Qualified Muslims are mandated to perform hajj at least once in life time to fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam.