By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL, Bureau Chief
Metro Manila News Bureau
ESCOLTA, Binondo, Manila
The Muslim consumers in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country are warned in buying meat products at supermarkets to properly read first the ingredients they are buying if it is really halal food or not.
Gerry Salapuddin, administrator and CEO of Davao-based Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA). warned Muslim consumers through his social media account saying to beware of “Pork Leg” inside a plastic package labeled as Halal sold in Manila supermarkets.
The Philippine Muslim Today Metro Manila News Bureau tried to dig deeper and found out that this Pork Leg is an imported product packed by B.W. Foods Limited, from the Meat Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria.
Salapuddin also said unscrupulous businessmen are using “#HALAL” logo because they can just be illegally printed on the cover of a product.
Normally the halal products in the Philippines are being certified as halal by the duly authorized Halal Certifying Body, the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines (IDCP), a non-profit organization based in Escolta, Binondo, Manila organized in 1982 by members of the Converts to Islam Society of the Philippines (CONVISLAM). It is headed by its president lawyer Abdul Rahman R. T. Linzag, a convert from Davao.
Aleem Said Ahmad Basher, chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines and alumnus of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt has clearly distinguished the words halal and haram.
Aleem Basher said halal and haram are the usual terms used in the Holy Qur’an to designate the categories of halal as lawful or allowed as against haram which means unlawful or forbidden to be used or consumed by Muslims.
The SPDA administrator also advised the Muslim consumers to always read the ingredients and distinguish the product.
He urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as well as the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism (MTIT) headed by Minister Abu Amri Taddik in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the LGU in each locality to inspect the products in the supermarket whether they are faithfully doing business according to law.
The National Consumers Act mandates all manufacturers and producers to strictly and honestly label their products correctly so the consumers can make the right choice.
As this developed, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), as the primary government agency responsible to promote and develop the Philippine Halal Industry and accredit halal-certifying entities/bodies for the utmost benefit of Muslim Filipinos and in partnership with appropriate agencies, individuals and institutions here and abroad has been again at the receiving end of a public backlash in the social media over an alleged pork product being sold in the market with halal certification/logo.
Commissioner Yusoph Mando said their NCMF- Bureau of Muslim Economic Affairs, Halal Development, Promotion and Accreditation Unit is more preoccupied with policing halal-certifiers than in reassuring the public after news reports emerged that a certain pork product is being certified as Halal meat including potentially diseased Carabao and horse meat, sold as halal beef in the local market.
Mando admitted that the public outcry came after a post in FB page calling the attention of concerned agencies, including the NCMF on the said issue.
NCMF Commissioner Mando told this Bureau Chief that he is giving a stern warning that those responsible in doing this are risking for the invalidation of their accreditation to grant halal certificate and he promised to bring this issue to the Commission En Banc and to the concerned NCMF Bureau.
“The said certifiers apparently did not abide by the rules laid out by the Commission on halal certification process,”Commissioner Mando said.
“The halal issue in multiracial Philippines is a sensitive matter with the potential to cause public tensions,” he stressed.
“The organizations responsible for certifying products as halal, or permissible for use by Muslims, should be very careful for it has often found itself at the center of controversies over the certification process in the past,” continued Commissioner Mando. JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL