Davao City okays ordinance on separate area for halal products

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 April) —  The Davao City Council approved on third and final reading Tuesday An ordinance requiring a separate area for halal products in business establishments.

The measure, authored by Councilor Halila Y. Sudagar, committee chair on cultural communities and muslim affairs, requires stores “selling raw fish, seafoods, meat, processed meat products to segregate halal food from non-halal/haram food items, from delivery to storage, display, weighing slicing, carrying through baskets/carts/trolleys, until its final packing in the payment counter.”

In a text tmessage to MindaNews, Marilou Ampuan, chairperson of the Halal Commitee of the Philippine Tourism Congress, said the passage of the Halal Lane Ordinance is a welcome development to their endeavour in promoting Halal in Davao City as having a Muslim-friendly environment.

She lauded the council for being the first in the country to pass such ordinance.

“We are so proud that Davao is the only city in the Philippines able to pass an ordinance segregating Halal products. We are definite that it will increase the level of awareness on the principles and concepts of halal,” she said.

Section 3 states that the law applies to all grocery stores, meat shops, supermarkets and other establishments inside malls, marts, and centers and those outside malls whether registered with properties or not.

The ordinance was passed “to promote, protect and respect, the religious belief, customs and traditions of our Muslim community in Davao City in their sacred concept of halal and to ensure spiritual purity and cleanliness on their food.”

Section 6 states: “Suppliers, owners of grocery stores or supermarket through the managers, staffs, and tenants shall provide separate storage, container, or freezer exclusively for halal food items and halal-certified meat products.”

It adds that they must put in place a structure and equipment, from storage, container or frezer, tools, and gears, to prevent mixture and ensure absolute separation of halal food items and halal-certified meat products from non-halal ones.

“They shall also use separate equipment, tools, gears, and other apparatus which are exclusive for halal food items and halal-certified products only,” it says.

Among the prohibited acts, under Section 12, are improper covering or sealing of halal products, mixing of halal with non-halal products, and failure to provide a space in the payment counter in supermarket, and shop or store.

Violators shall be meted out P500 but not more than P1,000 for first offense; P1,000 but not more than P3,000 and/or suspension of business permit and license to oeprate for at least three months but not more than six months for the second offense; and P3,000 but not more than P5,000 and revocation of business permit and liecense to operate for third offense.

The City Health Office, City Veterinarian’s Office and Business Bureau, with National Commossion on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) will consist the task force who will monitor the supermarkets, shops, stores, centers, suppliers and other establishments.

Last year, the City Council amended the five year Halal Ordinance that requires food establishments that offer Halal-processed food and beverages to get certification from the NCMF.

City Councilor Mabel Sunga-Acosta said the amended ordinance advances and protects the rights, culture and lifestyle of the Muslims by “allowing them to rest easy knowing that they consume products which are halal not only in name, but more importantly in fact.”

“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,” she added.  (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)