San Fernando―About 16,000 workers of Superl Philippines Inc., a top manufacturer and exporter of leather bags based in Pampanga province, may lose their jobs because of a Department of Agriculture directive banning the importation of cow leather.
Superl Philippines, one of the biggest companies at the Angeles Industrial Park in Barangay Calibutbut, Bacolor, Pampanga, is the leading manufacturer of leather bags for distribution abroad.
Acting Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda asked Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to reconsider the lifting of the ban on cow leather and exempt Superl from DA Memorandum Order 23.
The order, issued in August, imposed a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild pigs as well as similar products like pork meat and semen from Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and China to prevent the entry of African Swine Fever in the Philippines.
Superl informed Philippine Economic Zone Authority director-general Charito Plaza that an “abrupt ban” was imposed on 100-percent treated cow leather “without prior notice” beginning Jan. 24.
The company said it appealed the case because the sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances were placed a year in advance.
“Secretary Piñol’s order covered only swine. If treated cow leather would also be included, the operation of Superl would stop and many Pampanga workers would lose their jobs,” Pineda said.
Superl makes hand bags and wallets for international well-known brands. It has been operating its factory on an 8.5-hectare lot at the Angeles Industrial Park since 2012. The company spends P220 million in salaries, P20 million in workers’ insurance and P13 million in electricity every month.
Superl general manager Ho Ming Fung asked Rep. Aurelio Gonzales to request “for the exclusion of SPI and its subsidiary for the rejection of SPS importation clearance for cow leathers.”
Pampanga provincial board member Jun Canlas said Superl was in “no danger” of causing contamination because it was bringing in treated cow leather. “Health safety is out of the question. What is in danger of being jeopardized is the regular employment of 16,000 workers,” Canlas said.