DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 January) – The city seeks to strengthen its presence in halal markets with the expected signing this week by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of an executive order creating a council that will ensure the growth and the development of the local halal industry, a tourism official said.
Marilou Ampuan, a trustee of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, said the body was created to respond to the growing demand for halal products and services, and align efforts of the city government and private sector with “to the national government’s thrusts and policies”.
In a roundtable discussion at SM City on Tuesday, Ampuan said the Mindanao Islamic Chamber of Commerce will serve as council chair, with the Departments of Agriculture, Health, and Science and Technology as members.
She said the DA will focus on the concerns of producers in the agriculture sector, the DOH on non-food products, the DOST on product development.
Under Sec. 3 of the executive order, the council shall “initiate plans, programs, and activities that will promote Halal awareness, research, certification, branding, development and marketing of Davao halal products.”
In July 2015, the city council amended the halal ordinance that seeks to advance and protect the rights, culture, and lifestyle of Muslims.
The council will ensure the city’s participation in international events and trade exhibitions to showcase local halal products and services.
It will create facilities such as the Halal Science Center and modern halal abattoir.
Ampuan said the business establishments that engage in halal production must have a separate area for it that is certified by a body recognized by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
There are only three halal certifiers in the Philippines, one each for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
She said that to be considered halal-friendly restaurants should have a separate area for cooking halal dishes.
She said restaurant owners who serve dishes that come in contact with non-halal products can no longer claim to be halal.
“The common misconception with regard to halal is that it pertains to food products that have no pork or other forbidden ingredients. However, halal is more than a word to describe food. It is a way of life, following the teachings of Islam to achieve a ‘holy’ or ‘blessed’ lifestyle. It goes beyond food and drink and is imbibed in everything they do,” City Councilor Mabel Sunga-Acosta said during the Halal Festival in July last year at Abreeza Mall.
“The Global Halal market is said to be worth USD2.6 trillion. As such, research into making this market ‘better, faster, cheaper’ cannot be ignored. Presently, Southeast Asia and the Middle East are the two strong markets for Halal products. Marketing efforts to supply certified Halal products throughout the world are gaining momentum,” the draft of EO said.
Southeast Asia alone is home to more than 250 million halal consumers, it added.
“Recently, Thailand, Philippines, and other countries have realized the value of halal-certified products and their governments are formulating regulations to promote both export and import of halal-certified products. For export to many of the ASEAN, even the simplest of vegetable products must be certified. In this region, even non-Muslim consumers perceive halal as a symbol of quality and wholesomeness,” it said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)