Bangsamoro groups urge PNoy to veto new “halal bill”

Civil society organizations in Bangsamoro areas are asking Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III to veto the “Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2015” which is now already waiting for his signature.

Abdullah Salik, Jr. of the Federation of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organization (FBCSO) said in an interview that they are surprised and worried by the proposed law.

“It just came to our knowledge very recently that the House of Representatives and Senate have already approved on final reading House Bill 6347 and Senate Bill 2831, respectively, and the consolidated version of the proposed law is now with the Office of the President,” said Salik who leads the 117-member organizations.

Essentially, the federation is opposing the utter disregard of the proposed law for the religious significance of halal regulation to the daily lives of Muslims all over the world.

“This draft law is only concerned with the commercial and export aspects of regulation and does not care about the over-all and direct connection of halal regulation to the lives of Muslims,”Salik noted.

Moreover, Salik explained that the law, when approved by the President, would divest the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) of its regulatory powers over halal matters to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

NCMF, the only agency for Muslim affairs in the country, would be stripped of its power to accredit halal certification bodies and in setting national halal standards.

“Imagine, NCMF would have no hands in accreditation and formulating standards because DTI through a Philippine Accreditation Bureau would be responsible for it and that the NCMF is not included in the Philippine National Standards for Halal. Only Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and DTI would sit in the latter agency,” Salik emphasized.

Salik also said that the proposed law would also run contrary to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) particularly Part III, item number 4 thereof which states the Bangsamoro Basic Law may provide for the power of the Bangsamoro Government to accredit halal-certifying bodies in the Bangsamoro. 

“Hindi pa nga naitatayo ang Bangsamoro government ay inaalisan na ito ng kapangyarihan (The prospective Bangsamoro government is already being deprived of powers.), “ Salik lamented.

He expressed hope that Pres. Aquino would realize the negative effects of House Bill 6347 and Senate Bill 2831 and eventually veto the same. 

He also appealed to Bangsamoro individuals and organizations to raise their objections to this proposed law. ####