Schedule of Trainings and Seminars
07 April 2016
PROSPECTS ON HALAL
A Personal View by Leilani Arjonillo
The Philippines is determined to tap the US$ 2.3 trillion global halal industry. But the question is how can the Philippines do so? Its halal industry is not even at par with its ASEAN neighboring countries? What then, is the Philippines’ competitive advantage in order to tap this?
I think Mindanao’s abundant natural resources play a central role in the Philippines’ comparative advantage among its competitors in the halal food industry. The use of these rich natural resources, optimized by the introduction of technology and robust implementation of international standards of food safety and hygiene, will make the Philippines more competitive in the global halal marketplace.
It is not enough to say that we have the Philippines Halal Standards, trainable manpower, support of around 10 million Muslim population, halal raw material sources, and numerous firms and companies eager to venture into the halal business. What is important is for the Philippine government to support the establishment of an authentic halal certification system consistent with the provisions of Islamic law. Philippine halal products must meet international standards. In this way it would strengthen the consumers’ trust and confidence in Philippine halal products.
Furthermore, the Philippine government should formulate key strategies to further strengthen its halal industry, specifically in meeting world standards, promoting competitiveness of entrepreneurs, increasing capability in halal accreditation and formulating standards, and upgrading research and development.
It is necessary that the Philippines should prioritize on investments in science and technology because the Philippine halal industry cannot thrive in the world Halal market without a strong foundation in Science and Technology, Research and Development (R&D) in the area of food safety including a commitment to international quality standards, and more importantly, on human resource development. I suggest that the Philippine government establish a school or training center offering comprehensive Halal courses.
Currently, the Philippines, being a non-Muslim country, are plagued with many issues and challenges with regards to its halal industry. Foremost, is the issue that it is difficult to impose halal standards and procedures to the manufacturing and food processing industry in the Philippines, for the simple reason, that since the halal process in basically rooted as a religious requirement for Muslims, the Philippine government could not accept its rules without violating the separation of the Church and the State which is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.
Nowadays, it should be realized that the halal concept is the amalgamation of the Muslim Religion and Science. It is the Science that provides the government a room get involved in the Halal business. Without Science, halal could not go anywhere. A Shariah expert, for example, who possessed no degree in science, cannot identify what is contained in the additives. There is no way for him to regard it as either Halal , Haram or Masbooh. Halal, therefore, is a manifestation how religion and science should meet at some point.
Secondly, the Philippines lacks comprehensive halal laws and regulations which is relevant for promoting the growth of halal business and food production in Philippines as well provide protection to the halal industry. Also, the Consumers Act of the Philippines should be amended to include halal products.
Thirdly, there is a lack of monitoring of halal practices which has long been a concern by Muslims in Mindanao. Hence, more regular and stringent monitoring as well as inspection practices in recommended.
After having discussed all of the above, on the national setting, the challenges on halal lies on the question, which government agencies have the capability to bring this industry at par with other ASEAN member countries?