#ThewRap: Things you need to know, February 1, 2018

Here are the stories you shouldn't miss this Thursday

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Good morning, Rappler reader!

Two recently released global indices indicate a bleak socio-political outlook for the Philippines.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte, the country drops 18 notches in the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index.

The quality of democracy in the Philippines has also deteriorated, according to a report of the Economist Intelligence Unit.

There's a saving grace, however: the country ranks first in Asia in terms of budget transparency, according to the 2017 Open Budget Survey.

Here are the big stories you shouldn't miss.

Ombudsman to defy Malacañang order to suspend Carandang

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales says Malacañang's order is "not an inadvertent error but a clear affront to the Supreme Court and an impairment of the constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman."

Morales cited the 2014 ruling by the Supreme Court (SC) declaring unconstitutional Section 8 (2) of Republic Act 6770 or the Ombudsman law, which previously gave the President the power to discipline the Deputy Ombudsmen.

"The Ombudsman cannot, therefore, seriously place at risk the independence of the very Office which she has pledged to protect on the strength of the constitutional guarantees which the High Court has upheld," Morales said.

PH ranking in global rule of law index sinks under Duterte

The Philippines drops 18 slots to rank 88th out of 113 countries in the newly released World Justice Project Rule of Law Index.

Meanwhile, the rule of President Rodrigo Duterte and the extension of martial law in Mindanao have "adversely affected" the quality of democracy in the Philippines, according to a report of the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In EIU's Democracy Index 2017, the Philippines ranked 51st out of more than 160 countries, from 50th spot in 2016.

NDF consultant Rafael Baylosis rearrested

He is the first NDF consultant to be arrested since President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped the peace talks and declared the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army as terrorists.

Court orders arrest of Mark Taguba, middlemen in shabu smuggling

No bail is recommended for Customs broker Mark Taguba and several others facing charges. The arrest order does not include Chen Ju Long aka Richard Tan or Richard Chen, who was also charged alongside Taguba in relation to the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China. Taguba told senators of the so-called Davao Group, allegedly connected to presidential son Paolo Duterte, which lorded it over at the customs bureau.

Gymnastics doc abused at least 265 women and girls, court told

The number of women and girls now known to have been abused by Larry Nassar has risen to 265, a Michigan judge told a final sentencing hearing Wednesday, January 31, where the former USA Gymnastics doctor faced his accusers once again.

At least 65 of Nassar's victims were to speak out over several days at the last of three sentencing hearings for the disgraced doctor who molested his patients for two decades under the guise of medical treatment.

Angelina Jolie is working with NATO to combat sexual violence

military alliance to combat sexual violence.

"We are very clear that this effort must be about practical results that make a real difference on the ground in conflict-affected areas and in changing attitudes towards women globally,” said Jolie, who is also a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Jolie told a press conference in Brussels with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Time spent on Facebook down by 50 million hours a day after changes

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said changes cut time spent on the site by some 50 million hours per day, but its chief operating officer argued that having users engage more with friends' posts could lead to further financial opportunities for the company.

He said that in the last couple of years, content from viral videos or posts by businesses, and crowded out posts from friends and family.

"We made changes to show fewer viral videos to make sure people's time is well spent," Zuckerberg said.

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