The Bangsa Moro Federal Business Council, Inc. (BBCI) gave its full support to the 2nd Philippine National Halal Conference spearheaded by DTI and its Undersecretary and BFBCI Chair Emeritus Abdulgani Macatoman. The conference, attended by around 400 guests and participants, was held on July 2-4 at the Quest Hotel in Clark, Pampanga.

At the eve of the conference, the San Fernando Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SFFCCCI), together with BFBCI, hosted a welcome dinner in the same hotel for DTI Undersecretary and BFBCI Chair Emeritus Abdulgani Macatoman and some delegates to the conference.

BFBCI President Datu Nasraili Conding was accompanied by BFBCI Executive Director Dr. Abdul Hannan Tago, VP for Corporate Affairs Datu Jihad Abbas and VP for Media & Communication, Datu Jamal Ashley Yahya Abbas. 

The conference was actually divided into three parts: the DTI Regional Offices of the Halal Export & Promotion Board,  the Ulama Assembly and the conference proper.

The first day, July 2, the morning session was for the DTI regional offices people where they discussed the the various halal programs of the DTI “negosyo” centers  and the Halal Export & Promotion Board. This is primarily in preparation for the coming Southeast Asian Games to be held in Clark, which would attract tens of thousands of athletes and visitors from neighboring Muslim countries.

Officers of SFFCCCI and BFBCI
1st day of Conference Proper — Ulama Assembly. With Usec Macatoman and former MSU President Dr. Jun Alonto

The afternoon session is the Ulama (Muslim Religious) Assembly. Undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman gave the Welcome Remarks. Guest speakers were Dr. Abdulhamit Durakoglu, an international consultant from The Great Crescent Flour Corp. and Dato Muhammad Ghazali Mohd. Yusoff of Golden Harvest Sdn Bhd of Malaysia. Dr. Durakoglu spoke on “Halal as a Complete Way of Life” while Dato Ghazali spoke on the significance of halal regulation in the Philippines.

Guest speakers and ulama with NCMF Comm. Abdulhadi T. Daguit and Usec Macatoman

Midway in the assembly, the participants divided into groups to form the Halal Compliance Committee and elect its officers. The committee shall help the national Halal Board, headed by the DTI, in formulating policies and programs. National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Commissioner for Ulama, Abdulhadi T. Daguit moderated this part of the program. Unfortunately, ulama from Sulu, Tawi and Zamboanga were absent. Most of the ulama present were from the Mranao ethnic group and some from the Maguindanaon ethnic group.

The conference proper on July 3 started with the Plenary session. Undersecretary Macatoman welcomed the delegates while DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez ended the session with the Keynote Address.  In between, a representative of Senator Villar delivered the senator’s message and the Executive Director of NCMF delivered Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan of NCMF’s message. The Secretary’s message reminded everyone that NCMF is a major player in making Halal programs and policies and their implementation.

Sec. Lopez delivering the Keynote Address

There were very enlightening lectures by Mr. Muhammad Chaudry, president of the Islamic and Food Nutrition Council of America and Mr. Ihsan Ovut , Secretary-General of the Standard and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC).  Mr. Chaudry spoke on the “Overview of the Global Halal Industry: Basic Principles, Trends and Opportunities” while Mr. Orvut spoke on “Harmonization of International Standards, Prospects and Challenges. Both speakers made it clear to all and sundry that any halal certification body needs to be “owned, directed, and managed” by Muslims. Otherwise, such body would not pass the standards set by OIC or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The afternoon portion was divided into three “breakout sessions”. The first was on “The Growing Demand in Halal-Related Services”, the second was on “Market Opportunities and Emerging Halal Markets” and the third was “Research & Development in the Global Halal Industry.”

The 2nd Philippine National Halal Conference is a great event to further open the eyes of Filipinos, both Muslims and Christians, to the great importance of the Halal program, especially considering it is a multi-trillion dollar global industry. If the Filipinos would want to make a dent in that industry, they still need to do a great deal. But the conference was a great event that could prepare people for the First Philippine Bangsa Moro Global Economic Summit on August 19, 2019.