#ThewRap: Things you need to know, March 8, 2017

Hello! Here's a roundup of news you need to know this Wednesday

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Hello!

Hello Rappler readers,

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez both faced the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday morning. Malacañang earlier defended Yasay over his US citizenship issue, and President Rodrigo Duterte also called on the CA to give Lopez a chance.

Filipinos, meanwhile, are divided over the House of Representatives' move to approve the death penalty bill, a priority measure of the President.

Below are the big stories you shouldn't miss.

Yasay, Lopez face Commission on Appointments

Two controversial Cabinet members – Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez – separately faced the Commission on Appointments. Yasay's in trouble over his US citizenship, while Lopez has drawn flak for going after mining companies. Their fate could be known on Wednesday.

House death penalty vote draws mixed reactions

While Malacañang, as expected, is pleased with the House of Representatives' approval of the death penalty bill, lawmakers who voted "no" as well as the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines condemned the vote and vowed their battle would go on. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it's likely to be a "close fight."

Duterte: DDS created to fight NPA during Martial Law

President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that the Davao Death Squad (DDS) was formed to fight "sparrow units" of the New People's Army (NPA) back in the days of Martial Law. Duterte has repeatedly been accused of ordering killings through the DDS when he was Davao City mayor.

PH gov't in backchannel talks with Reds

A month after peace talks were scrapped, a visibly upbeat President Rodrigo Duterte told reporters that the government is now in backchannel talks with communists. Duterte, when asked for updates, told media to just "hang on" as he does not want to "spoil" things.

UN Security Council condemns North Korea missile launches

The United Nations Security Council strongly condemned North Korea's recent ballistic missile launches and vowed to "take further significant measures" against Pyongyang. China, meanwhile, urged the North Korea to stop its nuclear activities and also called on the US and South Korea to stop their joint military drills.

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