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Gov’t developing city as Halal hub: Official

Government agencies have started developing the city into a Halal hub in this part of the country.

In an interview last week, Regional Director Sherrila Porza-Sawah of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) said among the steps that the agency has taken has been calling on more establishments to get certification from accredited Halal-certifying bodies.

Porza-Sawah said the city has become among the destinations of Muslim visitors from different countries such as Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Arab nations, and some are strict when it comes to following their religious beliefs.

“When it comes to Halal, gusto gyud nila og assurance nga ilang pagkaon Halal gyud, ug slaughtered gyud siya in (an) Islamic way. Pag musulti ka nga Halal ni siya, dili sila mutuo dayon unless (proven) nga Halal gyud siya. (they need assurance that their food is Halal and it was slaughtered in an Islamic way. When you say that it is Halal, they won’t believe you unless it is proven that it is Halal),” she said.

Halal does not only mean permitted food for Muslims but the entirety of the Islamic way of live.

Department of Agriculture (DA) XI Regional Director Ricardo Oñate Jr. said he and Porza-Sawah have been discussing the steps to ensure that the establishments in the city adhere to some Halal rules to make their more inclusive in catering to Muslims, including tourists, as this could boost the tourism industry and make the city the favorite destination of Muslim travelers.

Oñate Jr. said the Halal program has a great potential as both agencies are looking at coordinating with the tourism sector and Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) in formulating the program.

NCMF XI Cultural Affairs Division Chief Samaon Buat said investing on Halal can be profitable because of the “potential global Halal market,” aside from inclusivity and propriety to the Muslims, this could also result in thriving businesses, more job opportunities, and additional revenues for the government.

Clarifying misconceptions

For Halal establishments, it doesn’t mean that only Muslims can patronize and appreciate them as non-Muslims can also patronize them especially if they are health-conscious, said Porza-Sawah, pointing out Halal food is delicious and fresh because the Islamic teaching requires a very thorough preparation of the food to ensure that it has a better quality.

Both NCMF officials also clarified that even if an establishment does not serve pork, it can immediately claim it is serving Halal food, because the certification process must ensure that the food undergoes the Halal process from the time the animal is raised, slaughtered and prepared.

The agency has been looking at evaluating certain business establishments whether they are Muslim-friendly or they have qualified to be Halal-certified as the latter is a thorough process of certification.

Progress

The Halal hub program has already started and the slaughterhouse in Barangay Malagos is one of their milestones.

Buat said that they were involved during the planning and consultation process of the slaughterhouse, and they are making sure that it followed the standards before its application for certification was approved.

Before the Halal slaughterhouse in Malagos, they used to get Halal meat from small private slaughterhouses like in Panabo, or in cases of big supermarkets, they get their Halal meat from other countries like Malaysia.

The agency is also planning to develop a set of standards for Halal products to make them globally competitive and ready for export.

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