#ThewRap: Things you need to know, February 16, 2017

Hello! Here are the stories you shouldn't miss this Thursday.










Hello, Rappler readers!

The highest court in the Philippines paves the way for hearing the electoral protest filed by former President Ferdinand Marcos' son and namesake against Vice President Leni Robredo. One of President Rodrigo Duterte's staunchest critics in the Senate revives his campaign-season allegation that the former mayor of Davao had unexplained and undeclared billions of pesos in his Bank of the Philippine Islands accounts, this time providing transaction records as proof. Solicitor General Jose Calida defends his motion to acquit pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles over illegal detention charges by echoing the suspects arguments.

On the global front, the parliament of the European Union backs a free trade deal with Canada to counter the threat that US President Donald Trump's protectionist stance poses to the global trade system. At the White House, Trump welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by declaring that he would back a single state if it led to peace, shelving Washington's years-long quest for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Here are the big stories you shouldn't miss:

Sufficiency of Marcos poll protest 'beyond dispute' – SC

The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has denied Vice President Leni Robredo's counter protest to dismiss the election case filed against her by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In a resolution dated January 24, 2017, but publicized only in February, the PET dismissed Robredo's arguments that only Congress has the jurisdiction over certificates of canvass and other election documents, and that the protest is insufficient in form and substance.

The High Court says the sufficiency of Marcos' protest "is already beyond dispute" when they issued the summons for Robredo to respond to the case.

Trillanes brings up Duterte bank accounts anew: 'Prove me wrong'

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV revived his challenge to President Rodrigo Duterte to "prove him wrong" that he had as much as P2.4 billion in his bank accounts not declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth when he was mayor and a presidential candidate.

This time, Trillanes provided to media the supposed transaction histories of bank accounts owned by Duterte, his 3 adult children, and his common-law wife, Honeylet Avancena, from 2006 to 2015.

Trillanes said the money that went into Duterte’s accounts – a mix of inter-account bank transfers, purchases of insurance policies, credit memos, and deposits – were not just from campaign contributions, and allegedly "showed a pattern of behavior" of corruption.

Solicitor general: Seeking pork barrel queen's acquittal is about 'rule of law'

Solicitor General Jose Calida denied the government is striking a deal with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, after recommending to the court her acquittal over the serious illegal detention case filed by whistleblower Benhur Luy.

"What deal are you talking about? We are talking about the rule of law here. There's no deal as far as I'm concerned because my interest is to see to it that justice is done," Calida said in a press conference.

In court documents acquired by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Calida told the Court of Appeals that Luy was not kept inside a retreat house and the Napoles' condominium unit against his will.

In defending his move, the chief government lawyer repeated the arguments previously made by Napoles in the case.

MidEast conflict: Trump to back single state if it leads to peace

United States President Donald Trump shelved Washington's years-long quest for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying he would back a single state if it led to peace.

The new president warmly welcomed Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House and hailed the "unbreakable" bond between their countries.

And while he urged Netanyahu to "hold back" from building Jewish settlements for a "little bit," Trump broke with international consensus insisting on a future that included a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"So I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like," he said. "I can live with either one."

To counter Trump protectionist threat, EU backs free trade deal with Canada

The European Parliament backed a contested EU-Canada free trade deal, facing down protests by activists and Donald Trump-inspired calls for protectionism.

MEPs hailed the deal as a rare victory for an imperiled global trade system that is under threat from United States President Trump who opposes far-reaching trade deals.

The accord, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), is tipped as Europe's most modern ever and a possible model for relations with Britain after its leaves the EU.

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