Halal laboratory to open in Koronadal

A laboratory managed by the Department
of Science and Technology (DoST) in Region 12 will be operational next
year to help the Philippines position itself as a primary halal
producer for Muslim countries.

Regional director Zenaida Hadji-Raof
Laidan, said the Philippine Science and Technology Halal Laboratory in
Koronadal, South Cotabato can become an authority in regulating the
production of halal food and maintaining the country’s integrity in the
export market.

Laidan said with the ISO certification the laboratory
has an authority to certify and accredit private certifying bodies to
address calls for a single halal certifying authority.

laboratory will be implemented by phase until 2010 with an initial
budget of P50 million for the construction of the building and other

The budget, she said, would reach P400 million if all
the necessary facilities are bought through the assistance of more
technologically-advanced countries with halal production such as Brunei
and Thailand.

“Halal is a very sensitive issue. It will help the
Ulamas who have the religious authority, DoST will be concerned with
the certification and accreditation,” she said.

Sittie Amina Jain,
assistant regional director of the Department Trade and Industry-IX,
said the laboratory is a step up in the campaign to regulate halal
export products.

She said Muslim countries insist on determining the
standards employed by the exporter, noting the number of times halal
exports were returned to the country because it did not meet the
accepted standards.

Jain said the laboratory can also assign a quality seal for all halal exports.

in Mindanao’s industry met yesterday for the creation of a Mindanao
Halal Food Industry Development Plan, a three-year road map on the
development of the halal industry.

The plan which started this
months until July 2009 will cover specific strategies, targets,
programs and projects on halal, and plot areas of cooperation with
related industries like agriculture, food processing, manufacturing,
halal ingredients, plus branding and promotion.

Meanwhile, a
regional official asked for an executive order from Malacañang to give
more teeth to laws covering halal certification in the country and
deflect the apparent “turf war” among departments tasked to harmonize
government programs for the country to meet international standards.

D. Macabalang, director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in
Region 12, pointed a systemic flaw on the joint administrative orders
signed by the concerned agencies since nobody wants to be subsumed by
another department in the implementation of the halal export trade
development program.

Memorandum Order 201 issued on December 23,
2005 directed the Department of Trade and Industry as the lead agency,
Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Department of Science
and Technology, Department of Tourism and Office of the Muslim Affairs
to ensure compliance with accepted standards on halal certification.

is their authority? Is it binding to all government (agencies)? This is
my apprehension… every legal officer are defending the clout of his
agency,” he said.

The Presidential executive order, Macabalang
said, carries a lot more weight than a mere administrative order issued
by the departments involved and give the ulama-led Philippine National
Standard (PNS) on Halal Food more clout.

“Let’s put teeth to all
the things mentioned in the PNS. Without the enabling act, is there
anybody who will respond to the PNS?”

The official said the proposal
was already recommended to Trade Secretary Peter Favila and Mindanao
Economic Development Council chair, Usec. Virgilio Leyretana, for