National Commission on Muslim Filipinos  Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH), through the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), has tapped various Muslim leaders in the country to take part in the information campaign for the national vaccination program on coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In response to the DOH's request to include various faith-based groups in the vaccination campaign, NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan said the commission has consulted with the ulama (Muslim scholars) sector and imams to promote and explain the coronavirus vaccines, particularly in Muslim communities.

"Islam emphasizes the need to protect life, and the use of the vaccine and its timely distribution will help the entire world control the pandemic that has already claimed 2.3 million lives worldwide, with more than 11,000 of those deaths coming from the Philippines," Pangarungan said in a statement on Thursday.

He said the DOH has offered to organize limited face-to-face or virtual town hall meetings to further discuss the government's vaccination plan and the benefits of the Covid-19 jabs to the people.

"DOH experts, NCMF officials, and representatives from the ulama sector will be available to speak with the public in person or online," he said. "Such discussions may also be done during Friday Prayer [Araw ng Jumuah] by the community and religious leaders."

Religious leaders should explain that the prevailing threat of the virus has prompt the experts to create the vaccines, while the government is exerting all efforts to acquire equitable access to vaccine supplies.

He said Muslim leaders should educate the people about the efficacy of vaccination against the Covid-19 infection.

They should be able to communicate to the communities that getting a vaccine shot may not eliminate the risk of being infected, however, being vaccinated could reduce possible developing complications in the human body when contracting the virus.

"Any substance that will effectively and safely protect people is considered halal, especially if it is the only viable option at present," Pangarungan added.

He said the NCMF is also planning to do massive information drives within communities covered by the commission's regional and field offices.

Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos earlier urged the government to make sure that Covid-19 vaccines are halal or permissible to millions of Muslim Filipinos.

She said ensuring halal-certification of the vaccine could prevent wastage while more people can be immunized.

“Being mindful of religious and cultural beliefs will prevent losses in government spending and encourage vaccination,” Marcos said as she called on the government to consult with halal-certifying bodies such as the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines.

Pangarungan said the vaccines are "yet to be examined by Halal Certifying Bodies (HCBs)" in the country.

He cited that the United Kingdom government has confirmed the halal-certification of Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine and "it does not contain any components of animal origin."

"Likewise, AstraZeneca and Moderna have also stated that their vaccines do not use gelatin or pork products," he said.

Pangarungan said the NCMF and the ulama sector support the government's efforts to increase public awareness of the Covid-19 national vaccination plan. (PNA)