Philippines: Senators seek creation of body to oversee local halal industry

 by Mia M. Gonzalez – Business Mirror

imagesTwo senators have proposed the creation of a government body to oversee the halal industry to help the country secure a bigger slice of the growing market.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, filed Senate Bill (SB) 312, or the Philippine Halal Act, citing the state policy “to protect the interest of the people for clean, pure and healthy food.”

In her explanatory note in SB 312, Villar also cited the need for the government to “ensure compliance with international standards of good manufacturing and hygienic practices by instituting a halal system for food, non-food products and services.”

“Most important of all, however, is the fact that this bill is accorded recognition in respect to the rich tradition and way of life of the Filipino Muslims,” she said.

SB 312 seeks to create a Philippine Halal Accreditation and Regulatory Board responsible for the formulation, drafting, management and implementation of programs relevant to manufacturing, production, distribution, preparation, handling, storage and verification of halal approved-food, non-food merchandise and services.

Villar said the proposed measure “institutionalizes a national standard at par with world accepted halal standards ordained in advanced Muslim societies and the same to be observed in all abattoirs, outlets, hotels, restaurants and other service establishments.”

She said SB 312 also seeks to inform the people “of the basic culture characterizing the Muslim society,” among them, that halal products should not contain any animal parts prohibited under Shari’ah Law or animals not slaughtered according to the latter.

Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. has also filed a similar proposal contained in SB 294, or the Halal Act of 2013, which seeks to institute a halal system for certification and accreditation of food and non-food products and services patronized by the Muslim community.

SB 294 seeks the creation of a Philippine Halal Executive Council which would later be “transformed” into the Philippine Halal Certification and Accreditation Board after five years.

The global market for halal food is estimated at  $547 billion a year.