RDC-12 wants P37.5-M more for halal laboratory

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 April) — The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 has sought for the immediate release of an additional P37.5 million funding from the national government to facilitate the full completion of the P75 million Philippine National Halal Laboratory building in nearby Koronadal City.

City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, RDC-12 chairperson, said they have asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release the project’s allocations for 2012 and 2013 worth around P23 million and set aside another P14.5 million to fast track its construction and development.

The four-storey halal laboratory building is part of the planned P255.5-million Philippine National Halal Laboratory and Halal Science Center, which is being developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in a one-hectare lot in Barangay Paraiso in Koronadal City.

The construction of the laboratory building, which was set in four phases, was earlier targeted for completion this year.

The mayor said the project received an initial funding of P15 million in 2008, followed by an additional P10 million in 2009, P10 million in 2010 and P2.5 million in 2011.

She said the national government allocated P13 million for 2012 and P10 million for 2013.

Citing a report from the council’s Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC), Custodio said the perimeter fence, site development and the first three phases of the laboratory building were completed as of the end of 2011.

But she said the implementation of its fourth phase, which started in January last year, was suspended on August 21 due to the non-release of its budget for 2012.

Due to the suspension of the project’s implementation in the last eight months, the mayor said its reinforced concrete form bars and steel bars already exhibited some rusts while stagnant water was found on its elevator shaft.

She said the RPMC team found mosses on the concrete floors and grasses growing on the ground floor level.

“To facilitate the completion and start of the project’s operation, the DOST is strongly recommending the full release of the remaining funds and the immediate release of its 2012 allocation,” Custodio said.

The halal laboratory was earlier endorsed by RDC-12 as among the region’s priority initiatives.

The DOST planned to invest around P240 million for the Halal infrastructure and acquisition of advanced/state-of-the-art halal equipment and facilities and P15.5 million for the Institution building.

Dr. Zenaida Hadji Raof Laidan, DOST-12 regional director, said the facility will be used to train food manufacturers and build a pool of halal certifiers in the country.

She said it will enable the Philippines to immediately start certifying food manufacturers, especially the large, small and medium enterprises that want to tap the growing global halal market.

Laidan around 200 companies have so far secured Halal certifications from 12 official halal certifiers in the country.

Halal is Arabic for “permissible” but is also largely referring to food that is allowed for consumption among Muslims.

Halal food preparation requires a long process wherein the food itself is kept away from haram or other food products not permissible to Islam. These include products from pigs, dogs, snake, and monkeys.

Halal preparation also requires meticulous cleanliness, which appeals to non-Islamic consumers seeking healthier foods.

Presently, the global halal market comprises 112 countries with an estimated population of 1.8 billion. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)