Philippine ranking in world’s safety list

Published July 17, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

Another worrisome concern regarding world perception on another critical issue is our “safety” today following the results of a worldwide study done by Global Finance Magazine. The latter had ranked the Philippines at the bottom among 134 countries.

Albay Represantative Joey Salceda’s reaction was that we should not take it too seriously, citing the international business magazine’s limited circulation of 50,050, and 8,000 followers on Facebook. He added the availability of more comprehensive assessments of measures against COVID-19.

Like all concerned Filipinos, we share Rep. Salceda’s dismay over the findings. But as we later learned, the magazine had acknowledged shortcomings when it noted that the report was primarily dependent on self-reporting by governments, and that governments in many less developing countries did not have adequate resources for gathering data especially during these pandemic times. It cited China, Tanzania, and Venezuela as among countries which were unable to provide credible statistics. There was missing data from reports coming from Bhutan, Belarus, and Sudan.

Thus, according to a report by Interaksyon, the magazine had explained that the rankings “should be taken with a grain of salt” unlike previous editions which were prepared without the constraints resulting from the pandemic.

Our law enforcement officials however did welcome the report saying that it provided lessons on how we can further strengthen our institutional capabilities.

The report had based its findings from recent studies like the Global Peace Index 2020 and that of the World Bank, using these three factors – war and peace, personal security, and natural disaster risk

Safety, as shown in previous studies such as the two cited and others (there are previous safety studies including a global study on safety of journalists), is a concept defined by indicators such as degree of violence and crime, involvement in military conflict, initiatives by the state and other non-state agencies in addressing conflict, ensuring safety of those affected, amount of spending (percentage of the GDP), for resolving conflict, incarceration rate, number of deaths, business costs of organized crime, practice of modern slavery, human trafficking, share of children among trafficking victims, state of law enforcement, number of children in forced labor. It examines legislation and policies affecting these concerns and how they are implemented are considered. On natural disaster risk, institutional factors such as financial resources and capabilities, e.g., amount of ODA or overseas development assistance to finance public health and natural disasters, and political commitment to climate change are important considerations.  The country’s vulnerability to pandemics, climate change and other disasters within or at the global level, and effects in terms of human loss and physical destruction. I based most of these in the profile.  The rest are indicators of human well-being.

While we do not have information on how Global Finance used the data gathered about the Philippines, scientists from both the natural and social sciences, policy makers in government, private sector, and other stakeholders, can infer from the above that the country could indeed possibly lag behind because of existing conditions such as our failure to fulfill promises made at the beginning. It will be remembered that President Duterte had promised during the campaign period that he would restore peace and order, reduce crime, and drug use, as well as an end to contractualization or end of contract (endo). But it is already only a year before the end of his term, and much is to be desired in terms of positive consequences of his interventions, notably the war against drugs. The fact that President Duterte had been accused of alleged extrajudicial killings and may soon be investigated by the International Criminal Court is an indication that this administration has been unable to provide a safe environment. Under the newly passed Anti-Terrorism law, suspects from various sectors – lawyers, judges, environmentalists, even leaders of indigenous peoples, had reported being red-tagged, harassed, arrested and detained on the basis of little or no evidence. That the country had ended with a negative mark on safety, was not a surprise to many.

The country indeed is in deep crisis. Pandemic crisis. Climate crisis. Information crisis. Education crisis. Economic crisis. Confidence or trust crisis. All these together with rising inequality and rising anxiety are alarming indicators that today is not a safe environment for our children. We have to find a way out. And more than any institutional, economic or political solution, what could be most effective is a new type of thinking. Thus, the challenge for the next decade shall then be that of transformation of the mindset, which may be the key to unlocking a new future.

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