PH Muslim commission ignored on halal food offer in SEA Games

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 26) – Local organizers of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games did not entertain the advice of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) to serve halal food for Muslim delegates, an official bared Tuesday.

NCMF Bureau of External Relations Director Dimapuno Alonto Datu-Ramos Jr. said his agency brought up the issue as early as September during the Inter-agency Meeting for the SEA Games hosting, but they were “ignored” by the organizing committee.

“I had warned them about the scenario re: halal food during the interagency meeting for the SEA Games back in September and offered the assistance of the NCMF. We were ignored," he said in his Facebook account.

In a separate post dated September 3, Datu-Ramos bared that among the concerns raised were the halal certification of the caterers for the Muslim guests and athletes, and the designation of areas for the segregated prayer rooms with appropriate quiblah markers.

On Sunday, Singapore’s chef de mission Juliana Seow wrote to organizers to seek “urgent and immediate attention” to the issues hounding the Games which could hamper the performance of the participating athletes.

“We request for your urgent and immediate attention to these matters. While we try our best to be patient and understanding, we cannot make any compromise when our athletes are affected directly," Seow said in a letter addressed to Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chief operating officer Ramon Suzara, as published in news outlet The Strait Times.

Seow raised that Singapore teams staying at the Century Park Hotel had to order their own outside food which would cater to the demands of athletes who have been “starving” due to insufficient halal and other meal alternatives.

Malaysian news outlet Bernama also reported that a local halal food manufacturer will sponsor halal food for their country’s sports journalists covering the event.

“We are well aware of the difficulties in obtaining halal food in the Philippines and hope that with this easy-to-prepare food, it will help sports journalists who have limited time (to prepare food) with their daily tasks,” Syed Mahdzir, an official of food manufacturer Adabi said in a statement.

On the other hand, Muslim delegates staying at the Athlete’s Village inside the New Clark City will be provided sufficient Halal-certified meals. These will be well-planned and served accordingly.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Head chef reveals Athletes' Village menu for SEA Games

On Monday, street food “kikiam” trended on Twitter nationwide after the Philippine women’s national football team bared in a press conference that they were only served “kikiam, rice and egg” for breakfast.

Philippine Malditas coach Let Dimzon urged PHISGOC to address the issue as what was offered to them “did not have enough nutrients.”

“We’re the host country and it’s a bit disorganized. It feels bad for us,” she said.

The 2019 SEA Games will run from November 30 to December 11.