Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, November 18, 2023.

Today's episode is brought to you by Wilcon Depot, The Philippines' leading home improvement and construction supplies retailer—your Trusted Building Partner.

READ: Marcos, Xi meet to ease sea row

Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times newsletters
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday said that he will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss ways to defuse tensions in the West Philippine Sea. The meeting is scheduled a day after Marcos held talks with United States Vice President Kamala Harris at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California. In a video released to reporters, Marcos said he and Harris touched on the Philippine assessment of the situation in the West Philippine Sea, which is part of the South China Sea, the vast waterway that China claims as its own.

READ: Philippines, US sign nuclear energy deal

THE Philippines and the United States on Friday signed an agreement on nuclear energy cooperation that will allow Washington to export nuclear technology and material to Manila. Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed the Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, or "123 Agreement," on the sidelines of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is in the U.S. for the APEC meeting, witnessed the signing of the deal, which he described as "another milestone towards a more energy secure and green Philippines."

READ: Michelle Dee wings it in airplane costume

MICHELLE Dee, the Philippines' bet in the 72nd Miss Universe competition in El Salvador, seemed poised for flight on Friday as she glided across the stage during the pageant's national costume segment dressed as an airplane. The 28-year-old actress and beauty queen donned the aviation-themed ensemble designed by Michael Barassi to promote the country's tourism and highlight her role as a Philippine Air Force reservist. The new Miss Universe will be crowned on Sunday morning (Manila time). The reigning Miss Universe, R'Bonney Gabriel, introduced Dee with the words, "It's a bird, it's a plane, it's the Philippines!"

READ: Only top 5 govt execs can use EDSA busway

THE President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chief Justice are the only government officials allowed to use the EDSA carousel bus lane, the Department of Transportation Command and Control Operations Center said on Friday. The center's chief, Charlie del Rosario, also said the busway is also for exclusive use by on-duty ambulances, fire trucks and vehicles of the Philippine National Police.

BUSINESS: Monetary authorities 'keeping powder dry'

Over to business, monetary authorities are not ready to ease policy with inflation still expected to average above target next year, an analyst said. Despite this week's decision to keep key interest rates steady, I.N.G. Bank senior economist Nicholas Mapa said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas "will remain ready to hike rates in the near term given its latest risk-adjusted inflation forecast of 4.4 percent for 2024." The central bank's policy-making Monetary Board, which last month ordered an unscheduled 25-basis-point increase, on Thursday kept the central bank policy rate at 6.50 percent, the highest since 2007. Monetary authorities trimmed their risk-adjusted inflation forecast for 2024 to 4.4 percent from October's 4.7 percent, still above the 2.0- to 4.0-percent target, while that for 2025 was also lowered to a within-target 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent.

SPORTS: Ateneo, La Salle clash in crucial match

In sports, rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles and De La Salle Green Archers clash at 6 p.m. in a pivotal second round matchup on the penultimate day of the U.A.A.P. Season 86 men's basketball tournament elimination round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum today. Ateneo is the one avoiding to be pushed to the brink of elimination and secure its ticket to the Final Four by repeating on La Salle, which, on the other hand, is already semifinals-bound but looks to sustain its winning ways for a shot at a top two finish that merits a Final Four twice-to-beat incentive. Standing in fourth place with a 7-6 slate, the defending champs Blue Eagles need to win to punch their ticket to the next round and join the league-leading U.P. Fighting Maroons (11-2), second seed Green Archers (10-3), and third running N.U. Bulldogs (10-3) in the Final Four.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Antonio Contreras, Anna Malindog-Uy, and Al Vitangcol are today's front page columnists. Contreras looks into the situation in the houses of Congress, Malindog-Uy asks if it was wise for the Philippines to withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative, and Vitangcol thinks the Department of Science and Technology could make the country's own internet satellite.

Today's editorial thinks the upcoming COP28 climate conference must be a "reckoning" for the world's biggest polluters. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

For more news and information, read The Manila Times on print, subscribe to its digital edition or log on to Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn; and be part of our communities on Viber, Telegram, and Mastodon.