Another controversy in Ayala Alabang

SPY BITS - The Philippine Star

The plan of Barangay Ayala Alabang officials to construct a three-story building along Narra avenue and Maria Cristina Parks is being opposed by a group within the Ayala Alabang Village Association.Barangay chairman Alfred Xerez Burgos says the planned construction will house a community center, explaining that the barangay also needs the space because they have been “squatting” inside a low-rise building along Narra.

Burgos and the barangay council had secured all the necessary permits and documentation requirements for the planned construction, going through the entire process of consultation with the approval given during a general assembly meeting. Which is why it came as a total surprise when this Johnny-come-lately group started making noises, opposing the planned construction and circulating an unsigned petition letter urging AAVA residents to voice their opposition.

The same group has reportedly threatened to file a case against the whole barangay council – something that Burgos said is uncalled for. While he doesn’t mind facing nuisance suits knowing these are par for the course if you’re a local government official, the sad part is that the barangay captain and the council members will have to pay for the legal fees because the barangay is not allowed to shoulder expenses for lawsuits, Burgos disclosed, decrying what he described as “the unfairness of it all.”

‘Risky’ China income gap

Millionaires in China may have reached a record number of 1,020,000 (worth more than $1.6 million) while 60,000 more are categorized as “super rich” (worth over $16 million). But majority of the population continue to live below poverty levels, with a World Bank poverty trend/headcount ratio report indicating that 40 percent of the population (in rural areas) live on less than $2.50 per day, over 70 percent live on less than $5 per day and some 30 percent live on less than $2 per day.

A research by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences also revealed that Chinese multi-millionaires are leaving their country to protect their assets, provide better education for their children and escape from the worsening pollution – a worrying prospect considering that 60 percent of these millionaires are thinking of packing their bags and looking at “investment immigration.”

Observers note that the “problems at home” could be some of the reasons why China continues with its belligerent posturing on territorial issues to deflect attention from the brewing economic uncertainty felt by the Chinese. According to analysts, the widening income disparity is a risk faced by Xi Jinping and the rest of the Communist Party leadership, noting that the gap between the rich and the poor is a ticking time bomb that could spark more unrest.

No surprise therefore that the Chinese government has announced a sweeping “income distribution plan,” promising to increase minimum wage to 40 percent of the average by 2015 and urging state-owned companies to give a bigger share of their profits to the treasury to fund more social projects such as more affordable housing and educational subsidies. 

Not many are impressed however, saying the plan may be good but it’s a little bit too late since the problem has become very complex and hence would be difficult to solve in the next three years. Add to that the expected opposition from certain vested interest groups whose own plans may be affected, among them high ranking officials in state-owned banks and businesses who might be compelled to cut down on their salaries.

There have been similar promises from Chinese leaders in the past to spread the wealth around, but these have been stalled due to squabbles regarding the effects of such reforms on certain favored individuals, groups, and business entities. 

Spy tidbit

The Year of the Snake seems promising for Pepsi Cola with sales volume growth accelerating to 20 percent in the last quarter, with January sales likewise posting a 12 to 13 percent increase as demand for Pepsi products overshot expectations to the point that the company had been unable to supply certain areas recently.

 Apparently, Pepsi Cola’s aggressive marketing, new product launches, price scale-downs coupled with expanded distribution schemes have driven up sales, a report from financial adviser Maybank ATR Kim Eng noted.

Spy Bits bulletin

––Tonight will be the grand launching of the Fairmont and Raffles Hotels in Makati, touted as the “two new icons of uncompromising luxury” with no less than President Aquino as guest of honor. Some 500 individuals representing the “crème de la crème” in society and business with majority stockholders of the hotel – Ayala Land’s top honchos Jaime and Fernando Zobel – in attendance. Welcoming the guests are Fairmont Hotels & Resorts president Jennifer Fox, and Raffles Hotels & Resorts president Peter French.

 â€“– The Rotary Club of Manila will launch the Journalism Awards today at the Manila Polo Club with ABS-CBN news anchor Karen Davila as guest of honor.

–– The Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) will celebrate Constitution Day tomorrow night at the Manila Golf & Country Club with Vice President Jojo Binay as guest of honor and speaker. The event is in line with the recent 25th Constitution Day commemorating the ratification of the 1987 Constitution celebrated every Feb. 2.

–– Senator Jinggoy Estrada will celebrate his 50th birthday next week with his colleagues in the Senate, friends and the “who’s who” in the political world expected to attend.

––The Manila Overseas Press Club along with Crimson Hotel and Stargate’s PeopleAsia magazine will host the “MOPC Diplomatic Night” with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario as guest of honor. The forum will be held on February 21 at the new Crimson Hotel located in Filinvest City in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

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Email: [email protected].


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