Good day. Here are the top stories of The Manila Times for Tuesday May 14, 2024.

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READ: China sends huge blockading force

CHINA is sending the biggest blockading force ever to Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) in anticipation of the arrival of the Atin Ito civilian convoy on May 14. At least four China Coast Guard (CCG) ships and 26 large Chinese maritime vessels will be in the blockade by the time the civilian convoy of about 100 fishing boats from Zambales arrives in the area, said retired US Air Force colonel Ray Powell, director of SeaLight, a transparency project that monitors and reports activities in the South China Sea. This does not include the Chinese ships that are not detectable on automatic identification system (AIS). This is the second time that the Atin Ito coalition will push through with its planned civilian supply mission in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the official designation by the Philippines to the parts of the South China Sea that are included in the country’s exclusive economic zone. On Dec. 11, 2023, the coalition successfully conducted its first civilian mission.

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READ: Sleepy towns to host returning US forces

THE far-flung coastal town of Santa Ana on the northeastern tip of the Philippine mainland has long been known by tourists for its beaches, waterfalls, fireflies and a few casinos. But that’s changing after the laid-back town of about 35,000 people, which still has no traffic light, became strategically important to America. The United States and the Philippines, which are longtime treaty allies, have identified Santa Ana in northern Cagayan province as one of nine mostly rural areas where rotating batches of American forces could encamp indefinitely and store their weapons and equipment on local military bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Thousands of US forces withdrew from two huge Navy and Air Force bases in the Philippines in the early 1990s at the end of the Cold War, ending nearly a century of American military presence there. In recent years, Washington has been reinforcing an arc of military alliances in Asia to counter an increasingly assertive China, which it now regards as its greatest security challenge.

READ: UN nears landmark deal on combatting biopiracy

THE fight against biopiracy — plundering genetic resources and the traditional knowledge surrounding them — could soon be based on an international treaty, which is being finalized at negotiations that began on Monday.After more than 20 years of talks on the subject, the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) more than 190 member states are meeting at the agency’s Geneva headquarters until May 24 for negotiations on finalizing a treaty. The United Nations agency dealing with patenting and innovation will try to conclude an agreement by consensus. The draft treaty text says patent applicants would be required to disclose which country the genetic resources in an invention came from, and the Indigenous people who provided the associated traditional knowledge.

READ: Go Negosyo, DoT chief lead Tourism Summit

THE Department of Tourism (DoT) and Go Negosyo teamed up once more for the Tourism Summit on May 13, bringing together over 200 of the sector’s key stakeholders, enablers, social media strategists and business leaders from various industries to discuss opportunities, emerging market trends and innovative approaches in the tourism sector. Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco joined the summit as travel and tourism industry leaders discussed strategies and practices for businesses to survive in the tourism industry, as well as trends and creative solutions. Frasco said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has prioritized effective tourism, focusing on more meaningful relations and purpose-driven travel. Frasco mentioned other Asean trends, such as wellness tourism and gastronomy. She also promoted the Philippine Experience Heritage Culture and Arts Caravan, designated as a priority tourism program in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP 2023-2028), the country’s tourism roadmap. Frasco was joined by Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion and first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos in presenting the Inspiring Tourism Entrepreneurs Awards, which recognize outstanding Filipino businesses that have made significant contributions to the development of the country’s tourism landscape, as well as a special citation for digital content creators and social media influencers who have promoted the country’s heritage, culture, cuisine, and destinations.

In Business

READ: SRA eyes sugar imports to avert supply shortage

THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said on Monday that it was planning to import raw sugar for buffer stocking and to prevent shortages and price spikes. The volume of sugar to be imported could range from 185,000 metric tons to 200,000 MT as endorsed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. The arrival of the sugar imports could occur between August and September or before the start of the milling season. As of May 5, sugar production for the current crop year stood at 1.918 million MT, up from 1.799 million MT a year earlier. Stocks, meanwhile, are about 1.1 million MT. SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona said the figures could improve further as there are still a few mills that are still producing. The imports aim to prevent a repeat of the situation back in August 2022 when refined sugar stocks dropped to 27,000 metric tons and were only resolved through a significant amount of imports, he said.

Topping Sports

READ: Nuggets outgun Wolves to level playoff series

The defending champion Denver Nuggets outgunned the Minnesota Timberwolves 115-107 to level their NBA playoff series on Sunday (Monday in Manila) as the Indiana Pacers pulled even with the New York Knicks. The Nuggets, fueled by 35 points from NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon’s 27 points on ruthlessly efficient 11-of-12 shooting and 19 points from Jamal Murray, claimed a second straight win in Minneapolis to knot their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at two games apiece. The Pacers dismantled the Knicks 121-89 in Indianapolis to level their Eastern Conference semifinal at 2-2.

READ: Opinion

The Times, in its editorial, commends the Department of Migrant workers for being on the right track. Read the full version on print and digital or listen to the Voice of the Times. Columnists on the front page are Antonio Contreras, Yen Makabenta and Orlando Mercado. Contreras writes about the Tulfo syndrome; Makabenta on Appeasement of China as strategy for statecraft in WPS dispute; and Mercado on Trump’s stormy weather.

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