By ALI G. MACABALANG
Chief of Correspondents
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), despite lack of funds for emergency relief strides, has actively played role in the government efforts to serve millions of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, courtesy of the assistance of national officials alongside office personnel and private entities.
NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan has particularly mentioned Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Samaritans from with his agency and the private sector in the success of the fund-strapped relief operations.
“There are estimate 11 Muslim Filipinos across the country. More or less four million of them are concentrated in the BARM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), while the rest are scattered in different parts of our nation. Responding to these Muslim Filipinos in the respective locations is already a challenge that we were able to meet due to supports from the outside,” Sec. Pangarungan said in a recent documentary video.
The documentary was produced by an Inquirer.net team that interviewed the NCMF official amid perceived hardship in reaching out to Muslim Filipinos outside the BARMM.
Pangarungan did not mention the type of consistent assistance his agency has been receiving from Sen. Go, saying that such support has made the difference for the NCMF to effectively serve some if not most of seven clients now scattered in all other regions of the country.
He said some of his agency’s affluent personnel in the central and field offices donated funds in the early operation of the NCMF Bayanihan Program.
Wide reportage of the NCMF field relief operations had gradually enticed other private individuals, including even non-Muslims and some movie personalities, to donate cash assistance and in kind, Pangarungan said.
He said the NCMF while providing limited volume of relief goods has also been able to secure the release of Islamic clerics held for verification by law enforcers in some cities of the country, and help shuttle students stranded in their campus locations and those transient from Arabic studies abroad.
He said the formation of Muslim consultative councils in some urban centers has also contributed well in the smooth coordination for the homecoming of stranded Muslims.
In an earlier phone interview with the Philippine Muslim Today, the NCMF chief had also acknowledged the separate relief operations of the BARMM governance and some of its parliament members in serving Muslims living outside the autonomous region.
Generally, the NCMF gained success in extending extra efforts for COVID-19-affected Muslim Filipinos, owing to its constant coordination with concerned government entities and the donations of private individuals, he said.
ALI G. MACABALANG