Aleem Abdulwahid Inju, head of the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board, said Davao's strategic location in the BIMP (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia- Philippines) East Asia Growth Area, requires it to be a step ahead.
The new halal board made initial visits to companies in the city for orientation on Halal accreditation.
Inju said cultural sensitivity and healthy living were two of the fruits of Halal accreditation, which he said was easy to do in Davao. He said the local government's track record of cultural sensitivity here made it also easier.
Joseph Palanca, regional development program officer of the Local Governance Support Program in the Autonomous Region, said Davao City was “expected to be a step forward in Halal-consciousness”.
LGSPA is helping develop the new halal board, set to go in full operation sometime in February or March.
He said with the prospects of greater cooperation in the BIMP presents opportunities for Davao to host many meetings and conferences in the aftermath of the ASEAN summit. He said Davao City should be ready to offer food and non-food Halal services.
"Unfortunately, Halal awareness and understanding is not yet so deep," he said.
He said though that they visited seven firms in the city, including Marco Polo Hotel and added that they have made remarkable steps in Halal-consciousness.
He said Marco Polo Hotel uses a separate kitchen in preparing Halal food. It also allots a prayer room each for Muslim men and women.
He said the hotel, the only one in the country with such amenity, also puts copies of the Holy Qur'an in deluxe rooms and by-request in the rest of the rooms.
Jocelyn Lucas, the hotel's purchasing manager, said they have expressed appreciation for the Halal process.
Palanca admitted that going through the process involves incurring additional cost “but above all it demands raising the consciousness not only of top-level management but the whole personnel”.
He said other establishments should already start looking at Halal-consciousness. Other key cities in Mindanao, he said should also follow suit, with the prospects of better links in the BIMP- EAGA sub-region. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)