Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, June 21, 2024.

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READ: Poverty level seen to drop next year

THE Philippine poverty rate is likely to decline next year as the country's economic prospects continue to improve, International Workplace Group country manager Lars Wittig said during The Manila Times forum, "Inspiring optimism, stimulating growth" on Thursday. The government wants to reduce poverty incidence to 16.4 percent this year and trim it to 9.0 percent by 2028. As of the first half of 2023, the percentage of poor Filipinos dropped to 22.4 percent from 23.7 percent a year earlier, or from 26.14 million to 25.14 million.

READ: 'Demographic dividends' far from being achieved

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Meanwhile, global investment banker and Times columnist Stephen CuUnjieng rejected the idea that the Philippines will reap demographic dividends because of its young population, with many individuals under 30 expected to remain in the workforce for decades. He added that demographic dividend may apply to countries like Korea, Japan, and the Scandinavian region, where aging populations and shrinking workforces create significant retirement liabilities.

BUSINESS: Peso 'not a laggard' – BSP exec

THE peso's current weakness is in line with movements of other regional currencies and monetary authorities stand ready to act if needed, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Senior Assistant Governor Iluminada Sicat told reporters on the sidelines of a Manila Times economic forum. The currency has been trading in the 58 pesos to $1 level for nearly a month after the central bank indicated that it could start cutting key interest rates ahead of the US Federal Reserve (Fed), which would make Philippine assets less attractive. It touched 58.83 pesos to the dollar on Thursday before regaining some ground to close two-and-a-half centavos lower at 58.78 pesos to $1.

READ: LP rejects Sara as opposition leader

In other news, the Liberal Party (LP) rebuffed a declaration by former presidential spokesman Harry Roque that Vice President Sara Duterte can be a leader of the opposition, after she resigned from the Cabinet of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. In a statement on Thursday, the LP said it "strongly opposed" Roque's remarks and said the true opposition is founded on "accountability, transparency, and genuine care for the people," qualities that the party does not see in the vice president. Roque said that with the dissolution of the UniTeam, Duterte has become the leader of the opposition. The UniTeam paired Marcos with Duterte during the 2022 presidential elections.

READ: AFP won't be baited into escalating sea row

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will not be baited by China into firing the first shot that will trigger open hostilities in the West Philippine Sea, despite increasingly aggressive action by the Chinese coast guard in blocking resupply missions to Ayungin Shoal. Navy Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, spokesman for the West Philippine Sea, said on Thursday China is trying to push the AFP into responding with force.

READ: Ex-Negros governor Pryde Teves arrested

FORMER Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves, brother of expelled congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr., was arrested on Thursday in Dumaguete City for terrorism charges. The Department of Justice (DoJ) said Teves, 51, was apprehended by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) at 8:15 a.m. in the village of Taclobo in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. His arrest warrant was issued by the Seventh Judicial Region, Branch 74 of Cebu City, on May 13, 2024. The court has set his bail at 200,000 pesos.

READ: Arellano clinches 5th straight NCAA cheerleading title

ARELLANO University completed a rare fifth straight championship in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 99 Cheerleading Competition at the Filoil EcoOil Center in San Juan City on Wednesday. The Legarda-based squad showed impressive moves, stunts and routines to earn 253.5 points from the judges. The team also took home a cash prize of 100,000 pesos. It was Arellano's sixth crown in the last seven NCAA seasons.

SPORTS: Gilas begins Calamba training

MUCH is at stake as Gilas Pilipinas will be shooting for no less than an Olympic berth in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia in July. And while expectations are high from Filipino fans, Gilas coach Tim Cone admits he's "excited" to get back to work when the national squad gets holed up at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna starting on Friday.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Francisco Tatad are today's front page columnists. Tiglao thinks the latest resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre is a publicity stunt, while Tatad weighs in on the fallout of the "UniTeam".

Today's editorial discusses how to keep Filipino seafarers out of harm's way. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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