Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, November 4, 2023.

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READ: Fishing tycoon is new Agri chief

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has appointed fishing tycoon Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. as secretary of the Department of Agriculture, relinquishing the Cabinet post he held concurrently since assuming office in June last year. In a press conference in Malacañang on Friday, Marcos said Laurel's appointment highlights the importance of partnerships between the private and public sectors.

READ: Filipinos waiting at Gaza border to leave today

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday said that the Filipinos waiting to leave Gaza will finally be able to do so by Saturday. The President told reporters in Malacañang that Israeli President Isaac Herzog assured that the 115 Filipinos stranded for days at the Rafah border crossing could finally exit into Egypt.

READ: Marcos, Kishida discuss devt assistance, security concerns

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to Malacañang, with the two leaders expected to reaffirm the two countries' bilateral ties. Kishida arrived at the palace with his wife, Yuko. After the welcome ceremonies, the two leaders proceeded to their meeting, expected to deliver a joint press statement right after. Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria Garafil said on Thursday the two will discuss various topics, including Japan's official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines, of which Tokyo has been the biggest contributor. They will also take up negotiations for a Reciprocal Access Agreement, a bilateral defense and security pact that Japan has forged with its allies involving shared military training and operations and larger joint exercises. Kishida's visit comes at a time of increased tensions between the Philippines and China over incidents in the West Philippine Sea.

READ: Think tank seeks audience with NSC over 'pro-China' claims

A MANILA-BASED think tank is calling for an audience with National Security Adviser Eduardo Año to express its deep concern and alarm over recent pronouncements by a National Security Council official that certain Filipino organizations were being closely watched "for spreading pro-Beijing propaganda" and for being a "sort of mouthpiece of the Chinese narrative" in the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute. Philippines Strategic Studies Institute, through its president Herman Tiu Laurel, issued the call in a letter addressed to Año dated Nov. 3, 2023. Laurel and other ACPSSI officials met with Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Undersecretary Paul Gutierrez on Friday to seek his assistance with regard to the issue. Laurel told Gutierrez during the meeting that they are seeking to clarify many points recently aired by N.S.C. Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya that took off from information reported by alleged United States-funded media outfits. Malaya claimed in interviews that certain individuals and organizations were "echoing the side of China in the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea."

BUSINESS: PH factory activity expands anew in Oct

Topping business, domestic manufacturing conditions improved further in October with a key indicator posting the fastest upturn in seven months, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported on Friday. S&P Global's Philippine purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose for a second straight month to 52.4, up from 50.6 in September. P.M.I. readings above 50 point to growth while those below indicate a contraction. August's 49.7 reading was the first decline for the Philippines in two years.

SPORTS: Unbeaten Petro Gazz eyes win number 5

In sports, unbeaten Petro Gazz shoots for its fifth win and the solo lead in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League 2nd All-Filipino Conference when it faces Chery Tiggo at the PhilSports Arena on Saturday, November 4. The Angels battle the Crossovers at 6 p.m. in the nightcap of a triple-header. Farm Fresh Foxies and Cignal H.D. Spikers clash at 2 p.m. even as the Gerflor Defenders and P.L.D.T. High Speed Hitters collide at 4 p.m. Petro Gazz cruised to a 4-0 start after trouncing F2 Logistics, 25-22, 27-25, 25-14, last Saturday in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Angels head coach Timmy Sto. Tomas credited his team's early success to their eagerness to learn and desire to win games.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Antonio Contreras, Yen Makabenta, and Danton Remoto are today's front page columnists. Contreras analyzes how the Israel-Hamas war would end, Makabenta checks on China's political economy, while Remoto talks about memories from Singapore.

Today's editorial believes the food stamp program from the government could work, but needs more attention. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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