#ThewRap: Things you need to know, March 20, 2017

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

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Hello!

Dear Rappler Reader,

While the House of Representatives is busy making plans to impeach Vice-President Leni Robredo due to statements she made at the United Nations, today's #AnimatED focuses on an issue Filipinos certainly need to be concerned about. President Duterte generously granted China "research" access Benham Rise, which the United Nations declared back in 2012 to be part of the Philippines' continental shelf, without a full understanding of what that decision means.

Not knowing about the deal, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana exposed China's incursions into the area. Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo was just as clueless.

What is even more incredible is the argument Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo raised in defense of the President's actions. According to Panelo, the President did not have to inform his foreign secretary about the supposed agreement with China.

We reflect on these developments and what they mean for the country as we bring you the most important stories of the day.

Former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani dies at 87

Former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, the younger sister of former president Fidel Ramos, died on Monday, March 20. She was 87. Shahani was a career diplomat before entering politics. Among the last statements she made before her death is an advice to President Rodrigo Duterte about the importance of protocol as Duterte prepared for a 3-day official visit to Japan.

#AnimatED: Benham Rise and President Duterte's dealings with China

The core of the problem, our #AnimatED points out, is the President's highly personalistic and parochial dealings with China at the expense of longstanding processes, protocol and practice.

Battle of impeachment complaints

Now that Senator Leila de Lima is in jail, President Duterte and his allies focus on another enemy: Vice-President Leni Robredo. Robredo, he told the Filipino community in Myanmar on Sunday, is in a hurry to become president. The President's remarks come amid an impeachment threat against Robredo issued by Duterte's staunch ally, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Alvarez has accused Robredo of being behind the first impeachment complaint against Duterte filed by Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano.

Merkel's challenger

Will German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arguably the world's most powerful woman, retain her seat after the September general election? One big hurdle she would have to contend with is the fact that one of the parties in the coalition that brought her to power is officially fielding its own candidate in the race. Germany's Social Democrats officially chose Martin Schulz as their candidate on Sunday, March 19. Party leaders say Schulz's entry into the race as a Berlin outsider appeals to many SPD voters who are tired of the "grand coalition".

Calamity in Peru

Peruvians struggled on Sunday, March 19, to cope with avalanches, mudslides, and extensive flash flooding caused by torrential rainfall as forecasters predicted still more rain ahead, prolonging the country's woes. The death toll remained at 72, authorities said, but devastating damage reports continued to pour in. Prime Minister Fernando Zavala said they expect more rains in days ahead.

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