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Philippines: Halal guidelines seen benefitting industry

20/1/12   www.mb.com.ph

MANILA, Philippines — The recent issuance by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) of a set of criteria and guidelines for the accreditation of Halal certification bodies or entities is expected to boost the Philippine Halal industry that will redound to our economy as it will increase the country’s share in the multi-trillion dollar global Halal market.

After a series of consultations with concerned stakeholders, NCMF Commissioners in an en banc session on December 14, 2011 finally approved the criteria and guidelines for the accreditation of Halal certification bodies and entities in the Philippines.

“This stringent set of criteria and guidelines is expected to lend credibility to the local Halal certification system and will definitely boost the local Halal industry as only qualified and credible organizations shall be accredited and recognized to certify certain local products as Halal,” according to Secretary Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman who presided the said en banc session.

Aside from the qualifications and other safeguards, one of the important features of such criteria and guidelines is the use of the new and exclusive Philippine Halal logo. In the previous certification scheme, Halal certification bodies or entities have been using their own logos on their respective Halal-certified products.

But countries with strong Halal industry like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, among others, have been using their respective exclusive Halal logos officially sanctioned by their governments.

Secretary Dianalan-Lucman explains that the imposition of the exclusive Philippine Halal logo is aimed at addressing the issue of the proliferation of suspected bogus Halal-certified products in the local market.

Also, with the approval of the said criteria and guidelines, she advises local manufacturers, especially those that have been using the OMA logo to secure Halal certification only from organizations that are accredited with the NCMF.

The NCMF also warns of illegal use of the OMA logo as there is no individual nor private entity that has the authority to use the same since OMA was already abolished and its functions and assets absorbed by the NCMF. Currently, the NCMF is coordinating and establishing formal tie ups with concerned international Halal organizations and governments to make sure that organizations accredited with it are given proper recognition abroad.

In August last year, Secretary Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman, together with Director Kim Edres, Mr. Alejandro Deron, and Atty. Bantuas Lucman, Halal Program Director, Halal Deputy Program, and Head Executive Assistant, respectively, met with officials of the Halal Industry Development Corp. (HIDC), the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM), particularly its Halal Division, in Kuala Lumpur to discuss and strengthen areas of cooperation, particularly on the mutual development and promotion of Malaysia’s and Philippines’ Halal products.

Earlier, the NCMF partnered with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in organizing top *ulama* (religious scholars) from different parts of the country to review and approve the draft Philippine Halal food standard.

As a next step, the NCMF will coordinate with concerned agencies of the government, experts and the ulama sector for the establishment of a Philippine Halal standard on non-food products.

Commissioner Moner Bajunaid, the Commissioner-In-Charge of the NCMF Halal Program will spearhead the conduct of a series of conferences in key areas of the country to promote the said criteria and guidelines among concerned stakeholders and initiate the Halal accreditation process.

Republic Act No. 9997 mandates the NCMF to “promote and develop the Philippine Halal Industry and accredit halal-certifying entities/bodies for the utmost benefit of Muslim Filipinos and in partnership or cooperation with appropriate agencies, individuals and institutions here and abroad.”

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