Press Release
June 29, 2014

At the onset of the Holy Month of Ramadan
Villar Urges Support for Locally Made Halal Products
Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food continues work on Halal bills

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, extends her greetings to Filipino Muslims here and abroad as the world marks the start of the Holy Month of Ramadan on Sunday (June 29). Likewise, she urges Filipinos to support locally made halal products, which according to her has huge potential in the global market.

"Halal food producers in the Philippines are well-positioned to gain a solid foothold in the thriving global halal market, which estimated to be worth $2.3-trillion. There are an estimated two billion Muslim consumers abroad. There is a growing demand for halal products among non-Muslims, too," Villar said during the launch ofthe first Ramadan International Bazaar at the Bonifacio Global City over the weekend. The bazaar will run for 38 days or until Eid Al Fitr, the end of Ramadan.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food is hastening the passage of halal-related bills, particularly on 'Philippine Halal Policies and Regulation'. Villar conducted a public hearing in General Santos in April and a technical working group conducted the first of a series of meetings last week at the Senate.

"I am giving my full support to halal food and non-food producers in the country. My committee in the Senate will continue our work to help enhance their competitive edge and we can maximize the huge opportunities in the global halal market," said Villar.

Villar-authored Senate Bill No. 312, or the 'Philippine Halal Act', seeks the establishment of a Philippine Halal Accreditation and Regulatory Board. It 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.

"We have halal certifying bodies but there are still prevailing issues that we need to address. We still don't have a common set of national halal guidelines that would govern the certification process. So there is a need to create a Philippine Halal Accreditation and Regulatory Board," she cited.

Villar added that the big and active Muslim populace in the country is attracting international companies to tap the local market, too. Mindanao, which is home to about four million Muslims, is strategically located and can very well become the Halal hub of the country and even the rest of the world. The region is already positioned as the halal production center of the country and gateway to neighboring countries--Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

"Our halal products are making its way all over the world. They are also becoming widely sought. I saw that for myself when I attend international fairs and exhibits. We just need to put in place efficient accreditation and regulating mechanisms at par with international requirements," the Nacionalista Party senator added.

Incidentally, Villar is the principal author of the 'Eid'ulFitr Holiday Act of 2002', which declares the first day of Shawwal (the tenth month of the Islamic Calendar) a national holiday for the observance of Eid'ulFitr, by virtue of Republic Act No. 9177.

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