#ThewRap: Things you need to know, January 24, 2017

Hello! Here's a round-up of news you need to know this Tuesday

In this file photo, a Lao police security stands guard at the entrance to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Vientiane on September 7, 2016. Roslan Rahman/AFP

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Hello!

Dear Rappler reader,

Regional security and peace and order issues like kidnapping and extortion hogged the headlines early this week, the last week of January. The country's defense chief talked about the elephant in the room in every ASEAN event – the proxy rivalry being waged by the US and China in Southeast Asia. Terrorism also took the limelight, as the Philippines candidly admitted 25 hostages are still in the hands of terror groups in the South. Then there's the Philippine National Police chief lashing out at media for portraying a rogue cop as a hero.

Below are the big stories we think you shouldn't miss.

PH defense chief: SEA not 'proxy' for US-China rivalry

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told a security forum in Singapore it was time for outsiders to let the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, currently chaired by Manila, determine its own course. He said Southeast Asia was not a "proxy" for superpower rivalries between Washington and Beijing. Conflicting claims over the South China Sea placed ASEAN at the center of the struggle for regional influence. Lorenzana says the ASEAN will work on a binding code of conduct for the South China Sea.

China: Duterte 'a wise builder'

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua praised President Rodrigo Duterte as a "wise builder" who will steer the Philippines through 2017, the Chinese Year of the Rooster. Zhao pointed out that Duterte was born in 1945, also the Year of the Rooster.

Ex-hostage recalls ordeal as 25 remain in captivity

Journalist Baker Atyani returned to the Philippines and relived the 18 months he was held captive by the Abu Sayyaf. In an interview with Rappler, he described his captors as "ignorant" and said he survived by making peace with himself there, adding "I have no problem with dying." Watch the interview. Philippine defense chief Delfin Lorenzana said Monday that 25 hostages are still being held by the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines but urged that no ransom be paid for their release.

BI bribery probe: Unanswered questions for Aguirre

The Senate blue ribbon committee on Monday, held a 4-hour probe into the bribery scandal involving the Bureau of Immigration, but left lawmakers with more questions than answers, among them: Why did the justice secretary meet Jack Lam, then a law offender suspected of human trafficking, privately? Despite the attempt to bribe him, why didn’t Aguirre file charges against Lam and his middleman, Wally Sombero? And why did he tell one of his subordinates, Al Argosino – who is suspected of taking a bribe – "Take care of the matter"?

Dela Rosa hits media for making bad cop a hero

Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Monday, lashed out against media for allegedly turning a cop linked to the kidnap and murder of a Korean national, into a “hero.” Watch this video. The tirade comes as 7 members of the Angeles City Police in Pampanga were sacked for a robbery-extortion case involving other Korean nationals in December last year. The station commander and his deputy were also relieved from their posts.

More Russian disinformation ahead of German polls

An EU investigation concluded German Chancellor Angel Merkel will face a bigger Russian disinformation campaign ahead of elections this year. The source, who asked not to be identified, told reporters that France and the Netherlands were also likely targets as they too go to the polls with populist, anti-EU figures.

Next Star Wars movie title: The Last Jedi

The new title for the upcoming 2017 Star Wars film after 2015’s The Force Awakens, will be Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Directed by Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi will undoubtedly reveal answers to at least some of fans’ burning questions following the introduction of new characters from The Force Awakens.

Miss Universe candidates charm Duterte

Miss Universe 2016 candidates visited Malacanang palace Monday and worked their charm on President Rodrigo Duterte. He told the beauty queens, 'Aside from the worries of governance, all the troubles in the world, when we look at you, we forget the universe.'

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