‘White horse’
SPYBITS (The Philippine Star) - May 2, 2013 - 12:00am

El Shaddai servant-leader Brother Mike Velarde is moving to muster 1.5 million command votes from his flock to support candidates who have expressed their opposition to the Reproductive Health Law that was passed last year. Brother Mike’s influential Catholic Charismatic group had banded with other pro-church organizations to form the White Vote Movement – and their votes can certainly make a big difference and could even turn some of their candidates of choice into becoming the “white horse” in the upcoming May 13 elections.

The White group had earlier endorsed the candidacy of nine senatorial candidates from both the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) slate and the Team PNoy administration coalition ticket, namely Mitos Magsaysay, Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito Estrada, Migz Zubiri, Gringo Honasan, Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes and Dick Gordon.  A few days ago, Brother Mike also issued an official announcement (aired over El Shaddai radio station DWXI 1314) informing religious followers about the party list groups they will be endorsing (based on geographical location so as not to waste the votes).

Party list groups need at least two percent of the total party list votes to get a seat in Congress for their top nominee, with as many as three seats allocated for a party list depending on the total number of votes it will get.  Aside from Buhay party list (whose top nominee is former Manila mayor Lito Atienza), the other group being endorsed by Brother Mike is “Pacyaw” (which stands for Pilipino Association for Country-Urban Poor Youth Advancement and Welfare, not Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao). Good thing the Comelec has designated numbers corresponding to party list groups, otherwise voters will have a difficult time remembering the tongue-twisting official names of these groups. 

‘You can’t please everybody’

A businessman who refused to have his identity disclosed told Spy Bits he agrees with President Aquino’s decision to turn down the wage hike demanded by the labor sector. Labor groups have expressed disappointment, but President Noy is firm in wanting the status quo to remain and has directed the tripartite industrial council to study a proposal that would be “more acceptable.” 

The cost of doing business has been getting more expensive, with businessmen especially those in North Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao starting to feel the crunch due to the daily rotating blackouts that have hit the area in the past few months. Also compounding the situation are fears that the blackouts could go on until 2015.

Several sources admitted that one of the reasons for the renewed interest in the Philippines has to do with the rising labor costs in China which is fast losing its appeal as a country offering one of the lowest costs for manufacturing.  In any case, it’s inevitable that salaries will have to be increased sooner or later as ordinary Filipinos are hard put trying to cope with the rising prices of food and other basic commodities due to increased production costs.

It’s a difficult situation that would require a delicate balancing from the president, where he will need to satisfy the demands of the labor sector without risking the viability of business groups – which reminds us of the truth to the saying that “you can’t please everybody.”

Sweet alternative

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook shared a shot of several diet soda brands reportedly containing aspartame, a sugar substitute that continues to be controversial due to alleged side effects including cancer. While a lot of agencies including the US Food and Drug Administration have approved its use and attested to its safety, a lot of people continue to be skeptical of aspartame and are looking for safer and healthier alternatives.

Which makes the timing definitely auspicious for Harry Liu’s Los Ricos Compania  Corp. to introduce its premier product, “Coco Natura Coco Sugar” which we are told is an all-natural healthy alternative compared to refined sugars and other artificial sweeteners. Coco Natura coco sugar is made from 100 percent organically grown coconut sap and is free from additives and artificial flavoring, said Harry, who is chairman of Los Ricos.

We’re also told the product is BFAD as well as Hallal and Kosher-certified, and that Coco Natura’s coco sugar product has a low glycemic index which makes it ideal for those with weight management issues and may also be used for those with diabetes. 

Spy tidbit

• Agrinurture Inc. (ANI) chairman and CEO Tony Tiu (whose success in turning a post-harvest agricultural machinery trading firm into one of the country’s biggest exporters of fresh fruits and vegetables has become quite known) commented that the strained relations between China and the Philippines has affected a lot of businesses including his own. China is one of the biggest markets targeted by ANI with the company recently spending over P1 billion on a banana plantation in Mindanao to increase its supply of Cavendish bananas by about 40,000 tons for the export market. 

While exports to Japan and South Korea have remained strong, it’s obvious that the Chinese market has a big impact on the business considering that ANI also ships other fruits to China. While Tony said he is looking to divert agricultural produce to the Middle East, he continues to be hopeful for more positive relations with our Asian neighbor because business is getting affected. After all, whether we like it or not, we cannot really afford to ignore a huge market like China. 

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Email: spybits08@yahoo.com.

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