Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Sunday, January 22, 2023.

'Revised wealth fund measure ill-prepared'

THE "re-engineered" Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) only shows that it is an ill-prepared economic measure, which was fast-tracked at the House of Representatives, an opposition lawmaker said on Saturday as he sought its recall for further review. Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said in a message to The Manila Times that all relevant aspects and implications must be thoroughly studied by the proper committee before the bill is endorsed to the plenary for approval with the full backing of the House leadership. Lagman was reacting to the statement of Albay Second District Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente "Joey" Salceda who said on Friday that the proposed sovereign wealth fund has been "re-engineered" to limit the funding needed to start it up to dividends from government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs). Salceda added that President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. presented the new version at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this week.

Marcos vows to bring new investments to 'fruition'

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Saturday returned to the country after his working visit to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF), promising to bring new investment opportunities for the Philippines to "fruition" that would allow it to "position" itself so that it is ready "to respond to the needs of the new global economy." In his arrival speech, the President reported the progress they have made during his trip which he said, "has yielded beneficial outcomes relative to new trade and investment opportunities, and key partnerships forged to support our development program, a better appreciation for Filipino workers and professionals, and the promise of increased level of cooperation with various countries around the world." During the visit, Marcos said he was joined by leaders from the Philippine business community and took part in several activities "to help promote partnerships with our private sector economic leaders."

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US, Philippines security ties to address 'flashpoints'

THE United States and the Philippines vowed Friday to "invigorate" defense cooperation to address shared security concerns, including disputes over the South China Sea. Manila hosted a high-level security dialogue with its top defense ally as part of efforts by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to restore a seven-decade partnership that was unsettled by his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte. The allies agreed "to invigorate defense and security cooperation and ensure the alliance adapts effectively to face new and emerging challenges," a joint statement said.

PH fishers' harassment at Ayungin Shoal probed

THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Saturday that it is currently investigating a recent incident of harassment at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea involving a Filipino fishing boat and a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel. According to the PCG that incident occurred on January 9, a Monday, but it only received the report from Filipino fishing boat (FFB) KEN-KEN captain Lito Al-os on Friday, January 20. Based on said report, CCGV 5204 allegedly drove FFB KEN-KEN away while fishing off Ayungin Shoal, which is 105 nautical miles (194 kilometers) west of Palawan. Accordingly, CCGV 5204 maneuvered toward the Filipino fishing boat at a distance of approximately 800 yards and deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB). The CCG personnel onboard the RHIB gestured for the Filipino fishermen to leave the area.

Farmgate price of onions drops further

THE farmgate price of onions on Saturday plummeted to P120 per kilo as a ranking official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) warned traders to refrain from profiteering. Based on the DA's inspections on Friday in Nueva Ecija, farmers sell their harvest at P120 per kilo, hence retail prices of onions should range from P200 to P250 per kilo. DA monitoring data in Metro Manila markets said the retail price of onions is between P320 and P450 per kilo.

Marcos: Review POGOs policy

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said that it is time for the Philippine government to reexamine its policy on Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to determine if their presence is still beneficial to the country. Marcos made the statement after Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that the country should do away with POGOs, citing their social and reputational risks. The President added that the purpose of banning POGOs should be clear since it is only the illegal ones that are problematic. He said that legal POGOs pay their bills and taxes, but the illegal ones were involved in killings and violence.

MB okays $2-B Q4 foreign borrowing

Over to business, covering October to December 2022, the Monetary Board (MB) on Friday approved one public sector foreign borrowing of $2 billion for the fourth quarter of 2022, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). In a statement, the BSP said the latest figure was significantly lower by 32.95 percent compared to the $2.98 billion borrowings approved in the same period in 2021. The borrowing pertains to a bond issuance of the Philippines to fund the national government's general financing requirement. Additionally, the central bank reported that the public sector foreign borrowings approved in 2022 amounted to $10.32 billion. This consisted of three bond issuances ($4.77 billion); seven project loans ($4.68 billion); and three program loans ($0.87 billion).

PBA Governors' Cup unfolds today

In sports, Rain or Shine kicks off its title drive when it faces Meralco in the opening day of 2022- 23 PBA Governors' Cup this Sunday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City. Reinforced by energetic import Michael Qualls, who is making his second tour of duty in the PBA, the Elasto Painters take on the Bolts at 4:30 p.m. The 28-year-old Qualls is best remembered for leading NorthPort to a semifinal finish during his first PBA stint in the 2019 Governors' Cup edition. He exploded for 53 points in ROS' 122-120 win over Meralco during their tuneup game several days ago.

Opinion and editorial

Marlen Ronquillo is today's front page columnist, as he discusses a recent World Bank report on Philippine society.

Today's editorial believes it is still a challenge to do business in the Philippines. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

For more news and information, get a copy of The Manila Times on print, subscribe to its digital edition or log on to www.manilatimes.net. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and Keep Up With The Times.

For The Manila Times, this is Paulo Dimaapi.