THE SENATE Committee and Agriculture and Food chairperson said that a bill ensuring reliable halal certification for the country should be passed by yearend, as the country looks to tap the $2.3-trillion global halal consumer product market.
Senate Bill (SB) 312, or the proposed Philippine Halal Act, should be passed within the year, Senator Cynthia A. Villar told reporters at the sidelines of the Salon International de I’Agroalimentaire — Association of Southeast Asian Nations 2014 food trade fair, at the World Trade Center in Pasay on Wednesday.“We have filed the bill, except that only the committee report came out, but we don’t want to issue a committee report without consultation as there is a problem: there is the religious side and the technology side,” Ms. Villar said, noting that SB 312 is still with a technical working group to work out a balance.Halal refers to food following Sharia law and Islamic custom, which include guidelines ranging from consumption classifications to procedures for slaughtering animals.
Ms. Villar added that even while the Senate was spearheading the bill, they were working towards a counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, and implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the proposed law should be released by next year.
The senator noted that they were currently conferring with stakeholders such as food processing firms, as well as the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which is under the Office of the President.
“That would be a very big opportunity for Filipinos because the halal market is around $2.3 trillion, and it’s very huge,” she said, adding that standard regularization would give the country access to the large market of which food — an industry that includes 50% of the country’s of micro, small, and medium enterprises — comprises a small $700-billion portion.
Ms. Villar noted that the larger non-food remainder of the market, which also includes non-Muslim consumers of halal-certified food and goods, consists of products such as cosmetics.
She added that the Malaysian government — which she said best implements halal certification — was helping in the standards’ development, and its grant will help establish a laboratory to figure in the certification process.
The senator noted that the national halal accreditation and regulatory board that SB 312 seeks to form, and which should be internationally recognized to ensure market credibility, would be derived from the Agriculture, Science and Technology, and Trade and Industry departments.
In a separate statement on the Senate Web site, Ms. Villar noted that no common guidelines for halal certification exist, and she “read reports that there are about 50 halal certifying bodies” nationwide.
Currently, there are only three NCMF-approved halal certifying bodies in the country: Halal International Chamber of Commerce and Industries of the Philippines, Inc., based in San Juan City; the Mindanao Halal Authority, in General Santos City; and the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board, Inc., in Cotabato City.
In April, the local unit of an Australia-based livestock shipper conducted a test shipment of halal beef from the Philippines to nearby Brunei Darussalam.
The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) explained that a representative from the oil-rich sultanate had certified the consignment, composed of two containers of meat from Philippine-reared Australian cattle, as halal. — Anton Joshua M. Santos
Originally Published on http://www.bworldonline.com