Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, May 18, 2024.

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READ: China's coast guard to detain 'trespassers'

CHINA has empowered its coast guard to detain foreigners "illegally" sailing into parts of the South China Sea it claims as part of its territory, according to media reports. The new regulation, which was reported by the Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post, takes effect in June. The regulation was issued days after a fleet of civilian boats sailed into the Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal to deliver fuel and food to Filipino fishermen there. Bajo de Masinloc is within the West Philippine Sea, although Beijing also claims ownership of the shoal. Under the ruling, trespassers can be held for up to 60 days without trial.

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READ: Philippines to buy 5 Coast Guard ships from Japan

Meanwhile, the Philippines has agreed to buy five coast guard patrol ships from Japan in a deal worth more than $400 million, Manila said Friday, as the Southeast Asian country faces growing Chinese pressure in the South China Sea. Japan will loan the Philippines 64.38 billion yen ($413 million) to buy the five 97-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels and pay for the "development of the required support facilities," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

READ: Marcos on Mayor Guo: 'No one knows her'

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called for an investigation of Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo, saying no one among the province's politicians knows her. Questions over Guo's nationality have surfaced and even prompted a Senate inquiry. The President said the Bureau of Immigration and other concerned agencies should check Guo's identity. The mayor has also been linked to one of two Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in Bamban.

READ: Low-cost rice solution underway – Marcos

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Thursday that the Congress bicameral committee was ready to present a solution to the high price of rice. Marcos said the Senate and the House of Representatives developed a scheme wherein the government will be allowed to import rice to reduce its price in the market. The President said it has yet to be decided which government agencies will be given authority to import rice.

READ: Yulo bags first individual all-around gold in Asian meet

CARLOS Yulo claimed his first-ever gold medal in the individual all-around competition of the Men's Artistic Gymnastics Asian Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Friday, as he steps up his preparation for the Paris Olympics. Yulo totaled 84.931 points in the floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar for the gold. The 24-year-old Filipino won the silver medal in the 2022 and 2023 editions of the Asian Championships individual all-around held in Qatar and Singapore, respectively.

SPORTS: Belen, Solomon yet to decide on PH team, PVL

NATIONAL University volleyball players Bella Belen and Alyssa Solomon did not give clear answers as to whether or not they will play for the Philippine national team in the AVC Challenge Cup slated from May 22-29 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum. Both players, however, were listed on the national team lineup for the competition. Belen, the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball Best Outside Spiker and Most Valuable Player, and Solomon, the Best Opposite Spiker and Finals MVP, also have no answers on whether they will stay for one more year with the Lady Bulldogs or apply for the upcoming rookie draft of the Premier Volleyball League.

BUSINESS: BSP could start cutting before Fed – Remolona

Over to business, monetary authorities could start lowering key interest rates ahead of the US Federal Reserve (Fed) and are not worried about the possible impact on the peso. Earlier in the day, the central bank chief had said that cuts could start by the third quarter after the BSP's policy-making Monetary Board (MB) decided to keep interest rates unchanged for a fifth consecutive meeting. Based on the MB's schedule, this will likely be on August 15. The US central bank's Federal Open Market Committee, meanwhile, is currently expected to announce the start of easing when it meets on September 17 to 18. Lowering interest rates ahead of the Fed would put additional pressure on the peso, which recently fell to a 17-month low against the dollar.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Antonio Contreras, Yen Makabenta, and Danton Remoto are today's front page columnists. Contreras says the English professor is just a price to pay for turning higher education into a commodity, Makabenta talks about China's Ministry of State Security, and Remoto has questions for straight people.

Today's editorial discusses the government's actions against smuggling. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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