Imee urges task force to ensure COVID vaccines for Muslims are ‘halal’

Published January 17, 2021, 12:52 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Sen. Imelda “Imee” Marcos said the national task force against COVID-19 should ensure that the vaccines they will purchase are “halal” or permissible to millions of Muslim Filipinos so that more people can be vaccinated.

Senator Imee R. Marcos
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Being mindful of religious and cultural beliefs will prevent losses in government spending and encourage vaccination,” Marcos said in a statement Sunday.

“Consult with halal-certifying bodies like the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines, which comprises almost 100 Muslim organizations in the country, before finalizing the allocation of vaccines especially for BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” the senator said.

The lawmaker said the vaccines already granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Indonesia might also be better received by the country’s Muslim population.

Under Islamic law, Marcos pointed out that ingestion of pork and its derivatives is considered “haram” or forbidden, even the pork-extracted gelatin used to stabilize many vaccines during storage and transport.

She said the vaccine ingredient had led religious leaders in Indonesia in 2018 to declare the measles and rubella vaccines haram, resulting in fewer children being vaccinated and the country recording one of the highest infection rates in the world that year.

“The success of the government’s vaccination plan against COVID-19 will demand more sensitivity,” she said.

“It’s not enough that vaccines be cheap and withstand the many stages of transport to distant island provinces like Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi,” she added.