Press Release
April 3, 2014

Villar to hear bill on Halal, amendments to the Fisheries Code in Gen San

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, will preside over two public hearings in General Santos City on April 3 and 4.

The hearing on the 'Philippine Halal Act', will be held on April 3, 1 pm at Pearl B Function Hall, Sun Suites, National Highway, General Santos City.

The bill seeks the establishment of a Philippine Halal Accreditation and Regulatory Board, which will be responsible for the formulation, drafting, management and implementation of programs relevant to manufacturing, production, distribution, preparation, handling, storage and verification of halal approved-food, non-food merchandise and services.

"I read reports that there are about 50 halal certifying bodies in the Philippines, but there are prevailing issues on some technical aspects of ascertaining the 'halalness' of the products. There is a need to create a Philippine Halal Accreditation and Regulatory Board because we still don't have a common set of national halal guidelines that would govern the certification process," Villar said.

Villar added that halal food producers in the Philippines are well-positioned to get a chunk of the estimated $2.3 trillion global halal market and the enactment of the Halal Act will make them globally competitive.

Expected to attend the hearing are Sec. Proceso Alcala, Department of Agriculture; Comm. Esmael Ebrahim, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Dr. Zenaida Hadji Raof Laidan, Regional Director, Department of Science and Technology Region XII; Dr. Sitti Amina Jain, OIC, Regional Director, Department of Trade and Industry Region XII; as well as representatives of the food sector.

The hearing on the proposed bills amending the Fisheries Code of the Philippines will be held on Friday, April 4, 8 am at Dome 2, Venue 88 Resort and Events Place, Mabuhay Road, General Santos City.

"Republic Act 8550 should be amended in order to prevent the apparent threat in the survival of our rare and endangered marine species. We should also see to it that our government adheres to the covenants made in international conventions that we are a part of," Villar said.

The hearing will tackle proposals filed by Senators Villar, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda and Ramon Revilla, Jr.

"The measures filed aim to impose stiffer penalties by increasing the fines and imprisonment to persons who violate or practice illegal trade of our marine resources, more importantly those that are listed as rare, threatened or endangered," Villar said.

Among the invited resource persons are Secretary Alcala, Dir. Ambutong Pautong, OIC, Regional Director, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region XII; Atty. Analiza Vitug, chief, Fisheries Regulatory and Quarantine Division, BFAR; and representatives from the fishing industry.

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