Good day. Here are the top stories of The Manila Times for Thursday, July 15, 2021:

READ: 5 parties willing to support Sara

THE Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) is inclined to coalesce with five national parties to secure a win for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in next year's presidential race, regional party spokesman Anthony del Rosario said on Wednesday. Del Rosario said the Lakas-CMD (Christian-Muslim Democrats), National Unity Party, Nacionalista Party, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and People's Reform Party sought to renew their alliance with HNP to support Duterte-Carpio's possible candidacy. The ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) said it may adopt an outsider like Duterte-Carpio as its standard-bearer in 2022 ifPresident Rodrigo Duterte will run for vice president and pick her as his running mate. Del Rosario said the Davao mayor has no plans of joining any national political party should she decide to run for president.

READ: PDP-Laban row worsens

THE rift within the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) took a turn for the worse on Wednesday when Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel 3rd declared that the party meeting to be held on July 17 will be illegal even if it will be attended by President Rodrigo Duterte. He said the faction of Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, the president of the party, does not recognize the meeting called by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. Cusi was expelled last week as vice chairman of the party. Pimentel, whose father founded the PDP-Laban, said the legality of the July 17 national council is tied up with the May 31 meeting that Cusi also organized. Malacañang had said that Duterte, PDP-Laban chairman, rejected the expulsion of Cusi.

READ: Creative economy takes spotlight in Times' online forum


NOW more than ever, Filipinos continue to find ways to monetize their skills and talents beyond traditional means. From producing content for like vlogs and podcasts to taking pictures of artworks and handicrafts for e-commerce sites, for example, everyone has the opportunity to earn a living from what they do best today. For those who are gifted but haven't a clue how or where to start, The Manila Times' Creative Industries Forum on July 15 may just be the thing they need. Streaming live from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on The Manila Times' official Facebook page, leaders of different creative fields will share their success stories as a guide for undiscovered Filipino talents who have the potential to flourish amid the day's highly diversified landscape. The speakers for "The new economy is creative: Harnessing Filipino talents" include Pangasinan Rep. Christopher "Toff" de Venecia, the congressional committee chairman of the Creative Industry and Performing Arts; Trade and Industry Undersecretary Rafaelita "Fita" Aldaba; Filipino industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue; advertising maven Merlee Jayme, chief creative officer of Dentsu International for APAC; Warner Music Philippines Managing Director Ian Monsod; and business innovator Rose Bosch-Ong, Wilcon senior executive vice president and chief operating officer.

READ: FMIC, UA&P cut 2021 GDP growth projection

Topping Business, FIRST Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and the University of Asia and Pacific (UA&P downgraded the 2021 Philippine economic growth forecast due to the lower-than-expected first quarter growth and stricter quarantine measures imposed earlier this year. FMIC and UA&P in a statement on Wednesday said the Philippine economy is now projected to grow by 5.0 to 6.0 percent this year, down from the earlier 5.5 to 6.5 percent. UA&P economist Victor Abola during the FMIC mid-year economic briefing said they did not expect the gross domestic product (GDP) to contract in the first quarter. The Philippine economy contracted by 4.2 percent in the first quarter of the year.

READ: Suns try to contain Giannis in Game 4


In Sports, THE Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks face off anew in Game 4 of their best-of-seven NBA championship series on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) with the Suns leading 2-1. Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to take charge again for the Bucks Antetokounmpo had 41 points and 13 rebounds in the Bucks' 120-100 victory in Game 3. That followed his 42 points and 12 rebounds in Game 2, making him just the sixth player with consecutive 40-point games in the NBA Finals. Chris Paul said the Suns will just stick with their game plan as they move closer to winning the franchise's first title in 53 years.

READ: Opinion and Editorial

Antonio Contreras and Yen Makabenta are the columnists on today's front page. Contreras appeals to the government to "leave our adobo alone" while Makabenta tackles the presidential selection process as an acid test of candidates' job fitness.

Today's Editorial calls on the government to make disaster response plans now amid the Covid-19 pademic and the possible threat of a new eruption by Taal Volcano. Read the full version in the paper's Opinion Section or listent to the Voice of The Times.

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This is Christian Crow Maghanoy reporting.