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Duterte bats for higher Hajj fund

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PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte wants a higher allocation to help fund the annual Mecca pilgrimage of Filipino Muslim citizens, according to Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar. The pronouncement comes amid the controversial use of Marawi rehabilitation funds by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to sponsor the Hajj of some internally displaced residents in Marawi City. “The budget, I believe, will be increased,” Mr. Andanar said in a Cabinet Report sa Teleradyo interview transcript emailed by the Palace to reporters on Saturday. He explained that the President wants this because he believes that is what Muslims value the most and in recognition of Islam as a Filipino sub-culture. “Isa o dalawang mansion (One or two mansions), that is nothing compared to being able to go to Mecca para sa isang (for the) pilgrimage.” The beneficiaries, Mr. Andanar said, will be chosen in batches based on the different Muslim-indigenous people communities such as the Maranao and Tausug, among others. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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