THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects more companies to become Halal-accredited as demand for Halal-certified products and the number of Halal certifiers in the country continue to expand.
“We see an increasing number of Halal-certified products with the number of Halal-certifying companies,” said DTI Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) emerging products Assistant Division Chief Albino Ganchero.
Five Halal-certifying firms operate in the country today, but only one is “very active,” the DTI official said.
In the Philippines, there are more than 500 Halal-accredited establishments, said Ganchero, but 500 of these are certified by the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines (IDCP) alone. The other Halal-certifying firms account for a minimal share.
“We are also helping the other certifiers to be known so they can get more Halal accreditations,” Ganchero added.
Philippine businesses, especially those involved in the food sector, are being encouraged to get Halal accreditations to capture their share of a US$2-trillion industry.
Halal food means food that is permitted under Shariah (Islamic) Law.
According to IDCP, Halal food does not contain any component or raw materials from animals that are not Halal like pigs, dogs, and other derivatives. It does not contain any ingredient that is considered haram (forbidden) or najis (fithy).
During the food’s preparation, processing or manufacturing, the tools or equipment used must not be contaminated by the product or with ingredients that are considered haram or najis.
Ganchero, however, acknowledged that obtaining Halal certification also entails cost.
In addition, some Philippine products, although Halal-certified here, are not recognized by other Islamic countries.
“The challenge is the recognition of the (Islamic) markets,” Ganchero said.
For instance, he said the Islamic Standard and Meteorology Authority in the United Arab Emirates requires that Halal certification must come directly from them.
In addition, the Halal movement in the country, which originally started in 1999, did not take off as expected because of “politics.”
“The Halal program is very political. Muslim leaders change. Religious leaders change. (Previously) DTI was mandated to harmonize all government agencies (for the Halal program). But because of Republic Act 9997, creating the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the mandate to develop the Halal was transferred to NCMF,” Ganchero shared.
10 in Cebu
Now, the DTI official said there is a proposal from the Senate that the development of Halal be transferred again to DTI.
Up to now, Ganchero said there is no baseline data in terms of the number of Halal-certified products in the Philippines that are being exported.
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is also working on the Philippine Halal Tourism Project in coordination with NCMF.
In Cebu, DOT Regional Director Rowena Montecillo said, 10 establishments will participate in the pilot stage. These are the Cebu City Marriott Hotel, Costabella Tropical Beach Resort, Cebu Parklane International Hotel, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, Movenpick, Radisson Blu Hotel, Shangri-La Resorts and Spa Mactan, Bluewater Maribago, and the Cebu City Waterfront Hotel and Casino.
In addition, there will be 20 establishments in Metro Manila joining, 10 in Boracay, and 10 in Davao.
A proposed set of incentives for halal establishments in the country provides for the establishments’ inclusion in the information campaign of the Halal project and exemption from participation fees in travel trade missions in key target markets.
Halal-certified establishments serve halal food and allocate a place to perform Islamic prayers.
Montecillo said the Philippines welcomed 348,970 tourists, or seven percent of the total tourist arrivals in 2014, from Arab and Muslim countries.