Watching for the enemy

SPY BIZ - S.A. Maguire () - December 19, 2006 - 12:00am
Insiders reported that some members of the Optical Media Board may be working against law enforcement authorities in the fight against video piracy. Acting on a tip from an informant, several teams from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reportedly found several video replicating machines in a warehouse in Mamplasan, Laguna while another team caught a number of Chinese operators in Cavite. Another team was all set to raid another disc pirates’ haven at the Clark Economic Zone when the raid was suddenly called off — allegedly because the OMB said the establishment was legitimate. The informant, however, was positive that the three places were managed and operated by just one group from mainland China. Observers found it disconcerting however that in the successful raid in Laguna and Cavite, the OMB was not informed, but in the Clark operations — about which the OMB was notified — the raid was aborted. The informants are concerned that a whistleblower may be working within the OMB, allegedly protecting the pirates to the detriment of legitimate businessmen.
Abaca ABCs
The onslaught of several typhoons has damaged several agricultural industries and rendered a huge number of people jobless especially in rural areas. Legislators are looking for alternative means to boost employment in the countryside, and are looking at the abaca industry’s potential. According to Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) of the Department of Agriculture should draw up a broad strategy that would advance the abaca trade. The abaca fiber, which grows about 20 feet and is harvested mainly for its large leaves and stems that produce a sturdy natural fiber known as "Manila hemp," has been largely underrated, with potential other uses still to be fully exploited, the Congressman said. Abaca is primarily used for twines, ropes and handicraft like bags and baskets. Abaca-based furniture from settees to coffee tables and the like are also widely recognized for their elegance in other countries. Several studies have also identified abaca enzymes for use in cosmetic and dietary products. Apart from propagating new, disease-resistant plant varieties, abaca farmers, processors and exporters need ready access to adequate financial, technical and marketing assistance as well as infrastructure support, the Congressman urged.
Un-concrete road work
Motorists are complaining about the road resurfacing along Granada St. in Ortigas not because of the ensuing traffic but at the size of the steel bars used. According to the informants, the steel bars laid out on the road prior to being cemented seemed very thin and way below standard for such a heavily used road. These steel bars were also allegedly laid out flat on the ground, whereas there should be some lumber or steel structure that should hold the bars together, with the structure taken out once the concrete settles. Substandard materials used for road work may turn out to be more costly and hazardous later on, such as what happened with the widening and asphalting project in one area in Quezon City. The asphalt used was allegedly so thin that even before the completion of the project, the road started cracking and major portions had to be redone because of the typhoons.
High and dry
Residents of Parañaque are still suffering from water woes, with 45 percent or about 53,000 plus households said to be without potable water. Most survive on buying ration water from haulers at highly exorbitant prices, pegged at around P95.11 per cubic meter compared to Maynilad’s current rate of approximately P17.53. Muntinlupa residents are more fortunate because they get their supply from Manila Water at about P16 per cubic meter. Because most have no choice, a lot of residents from this large subdivision have become easy prey to "water sharks," who buy the water from Maynilad at P51.94 and sell at P250 to the affected households. In BF homes alone for instance, some 9,000 households are reportedly serviced by water haulers who allegedly belong to a cartel that dictates the price of delivered water. In exchange, each tanker reportedly pays some P6,000 a year plus other fees and charges to the homeowners association, which accounts for the higher cost of water and other goods and services in the subdivision. Given the situation, these affected residents understandably feel that they are being left high and dry.

If Maynilad extends its services to the 45 percent waterless areas, the savings could easily reach up to hundreds of millions monthly, the sources claimed.
Spy tidbiz: Never say die
Ear-spies said Sixto "Ting" Roxas, the 79-year-old founder of the now defunct Bancom Development Corp. has reportedly moved on with a new wife 55 years his junior, leaving his second wife who was 30 years younger than him. It looks like the pony-tailed Ting intends to live to be a hundred. As one of his admirers said, "never say die — just keep on going till you drop."
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