Halal industry development gets RDC-12 backing

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/5 March) – The Regional Development Council in Region 12 has endorsed a government agency-led initiative to develop the halal industry due to the lucrative global market, officials said.

Mayor Darlene Magnolia Antonino Custodio, RDC-12 chairperson, said the highest development policy making body in the region passed the resolution endorsing the institutionalization of the Philippine National Halal Laboratory and Science Center (PNHLSC).

The halal laboratory and science center is located in nearby Koronadal City, the regional seat of government, and is nearly completed.

“The center shall serve as the country’s clearing house of all halal products… manufactured and processed for domestic and international consumption,” said the resolution.

Teresita Socorro Ramos, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority, urged that the center shall be recognized as the competent authority for halal in terms of scientific capability.

“It should be the accrediting body for halal laboratories and a certifying body for halal products in terms of scientific and technical requirements considering its advanced halal laboratory equipment and competent Muslim scientists,” she said.

The establishment of an advanced halal laboratory in Koronadal City is a major project of the Department of Science and Technology-Region 12, which is already operating a halal laboratory in Cotabato City.

Zenaida Hadji Raof Laidan, DOST-12 regional director, said they are taking bolder steps in promoting the halal industry as the agency’s contribution to peace efforts in Mindanao

In response to President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III’s peace overtures with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Science and Technology Department will work to develop a “halal culture” to achieve lasting peace in the Southern Philippines, she said earlier.

Laidan cited the need to develop the country’s halal industry because of the lucrative global halal market.

Laidan said the PNHLSC would become a clearing house for halal products, not just in Southwestern Mindanao but also for the entire country, before they are released to domestic and global markets.

The country needs to develop halal products with integrity so they will be acceptable in the global market, and this can be achieved through science and technology vis-à-vis the religious aspect, she said.

Mindanao, home to about four million Muslims or a fifth of its population, is projected to become the halal hub of the country due to its strategic location.

Its halal industry is not yet developed, but there are efforts among stakeholders to get a share of the estimated $600-billion global halal market. Halal is Arabic for “permitted” and refers to a food or non-food preparation method under Islamic law. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)