By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has enjoined local government units (LGUs) across the country to serve Muslim constituents with halal goods in current lockdowns prompted by the threats posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The circular was addressed to “all governors, city and municipal mayors, DILG regional directors, punong barangays, sangguniang barangay members and all other concerned,” including even the Ministry of Local Government of the Bangsamo Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Under Presidential Proclamations Nos. 922 and 929, the LGUs have been “given ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds, including the quick respond fund, to continue to provide basic services…including, but not limited to, providing food rations to affected communities during the period of the Enhanced Community Quarantine,” the circular stated.
Since the “CONVID-19 pandemic affects everyone, including our Muslim brothers and sisters,” Año “enjoined (the circular-covered officials) to prepare food relief operations that are Halal compliant in Muslim communities.”
In ascertaining the halal compliance of goods for ration, Año urged the LGUs to coordinate with the National Commision on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) being the “lead government agency that conducts community-based awareness program and maintains a database of halal companies and manufacturers, establishments and hotels, and halal products for ready reference.”
The circular, which required strict compliance, was issued upon representations by NCMF-National Capital Region Director Mito-on Ibra and Bureau of Muslim Economic Affairs Director Saleha Sacar, agency spokesman Dimapuno Alonto-Datu Ramos Jr. said on Saturday.
Datu Ramos said the NCMF officials on Saturday forwarded to the DILG some online complaints that LGUs in Metro Manila “have been distributing non-Halal compliant relief goods to Muslim Filipino and 7th Day Adventist communities affected by the lockdown.”
On same day, the circular was issued, Datu Ramos said as he conveyed NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan’s words of gratitude to Sec. Ano and his staff for the “unprecedented quick response.”