Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Sunday, November 20, 2022.

Marcos downplays Harris Palawan trip

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Saturday allayed fears that the upcoming trip of US Vice President Kamala Harris to Palawan will trigger tension between the Philippines and China since she will be visiting an area that is within Philippine territory. Harris is expected to arrive in Palawan on November 21 to receive a briefing about the current situation in the West Philippine Sea, a part of the strategic waterway that China has been claiming. Harris is set to meet with Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio on Monday, and visit Palawan — one of the Philippines' closest territories to the disputed South China Sea — on Tuesday. When asked what issues would be discussed during the meeting, Marcos said that relations between the Philippines and the US "must continue to evolve, and that will be the case." He also said that maintaining the AsiaPacific region's security and defense is not a job that can be done by a single country but a "joint response" from countries.

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Saudi prince 'gifts' 10K displaced OFWs

THE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has committed to shoulder the wage claims of around 10,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were displaced from its construction companies that went bankrupt. President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. announced this piece of "good news" following a bilateral meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. Marcos welcomed this development and thanked Prince Mohammed for his "gift" to the displaced OFWs.

BBM back from APEC meet

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is back in the country after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok, Thailand. Marcos, along with several Cabinet members and delegates, arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Saturday night. The three-day summit gave Marcos the opportunity to put forward the country's stance on pressing global issues, as well as its plans, including post-pandemic recovery, with fellow leaders in the region and other heads of state. Marcos had bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the sidelines of the summit. The President also had the chance to invite business leaders to do business in the country. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the President's participation in the APEC Summit has been successful so far, with the Chief Executive leading the Philippine delegation in tackling trade and investment opportunities while seeking to realize mutual prosperity.

PH, France eye 'strong partnership' on nuke energy

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is looking forward to having a "strong partnership" with France on nuclear energy as the Philippines moves closer to adopting this power source to improve its long-term energy security. Marcos held a bilateral meeting with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, where they discussed energy, agriculture and defense. The President said he engaged Macron to talk about energy because France is a leading proponent of nuclear energy and its experience is quite extensive, which the Philippines could rely on if it goes ahead with a partnership.

PH not likely to rejoin ICC

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Friday that it is highly unlikely that the Philippines will rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC). Remulla added he deemed it unnecessary, noting the Philippines is not a troubled country like Sudan "that has no government running the show."

Commission on Audit review of BuCor pushed

BUREAU of Corrections (BuCor) Officer in Charge Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said he will ask the Commission on Audit (CoA) to review specific sectors and issues of the agency. Catapang said on Saturday that this will help settle the controversies that have arisen in the BuCor. He said the discovery of an excavation project, animals and separate housing for high-value inmates inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) represent only the "tip of the iceberg" that needs to be audited. Catapang also disclosed that he has conducted a performance audit with the help of his own team, but it was not enough compared to the full CoA audit. The Department of Justice (DoJ) already declared that it is now studying the possibility of filing charges against several personalities directly involved in the "tunnel" that started during the time of suspended BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag. This despite Bantag saying that the excavation was part of a joint venture with the Agua Tierra Mina Oro Development Corp., a private company that aims to turn the area into a "business center" in exchange for a 200-hectare land donation in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija where the NBP was supposed to transfer. Bantag added that the revenue of the business center that will be built in the countryside will be divided between BuCor (35 percent) and Agua Tierra (65 percent).

Focus on shipping, logistics issues

Over to business, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has asked his fellow Asia-Pacific leaders to pay close attention to challenges confronting the shipping and logistics services sector in the region, as he recognized its role as "the backbone of global trade and investment." Marcos made the call during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Informal Dialogue in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday. Marcos told the APEC members. Citing the Philippines' case, the President said businesses in the country absorb up to 30 percent of costs from logistics alone, having "one of the highest rates in the region.

Ginebra eyes 5th straight win vs TNT

Topping sports, Barangay Ginebra is out to sustain its meteoric rise to the top when it goes up against a dangerous TNT side in the main game of the 2022-23 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. T h e G i n Kings' confidence are a t a h i g h, having won their fourth straight game Friday, while gifting coach Tim Cone his 1,000 career win as a PBA coach. Currently, Ginebra occupies solo fourth in the standings with its 6-2 record. But a top 2 finish that comes with a twice-to-beat incentive entering the playoffs is very much alive for the Gin Kings. Even resident import Justin Brownlee entered the PBA record books after becoming the first league reinforcement to register 300 career steals. Still, Cone reminded his boys not to get too high on the achievement, preferring to let them stay focused on the task at hand against the Tropang Giga, who are currently at seventh to eight spots with Meralco Bolts with their similar 4-5 slates.

Opinion and editorial

Marlen Ronquillo is today's front page columnist, as he discusses a tale of two cultures.

Today's editorial calls on a review of the management of coastal resources. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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For The Manila Times, this is Paulo Dimaapi.