THE Philippines ranked 55th out of 167 countries in a global democracy index report released by London-based think tank The Economist Intelligence Unit on Wednesday, February 3.
Previously, the country ranked 54th in 2019, 53rd in 2018, and 51st in 2017.
In the Democracy Index 2020, the Philippines recorded an average score of 6.56, after receiving the scores of 9.17 in electoral process and pluralism, 5 in functioning government, 7.78 in political participation, 4.38 in political culture and 6.47 in civil liberties.
The country’s average puts it under the latest report’s “flawed democracy” category, where nations classified in it “have free and fair elections, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties are respected.”
The Philippines lagged behind its Asian neighbors including Taiwan (11th place), Japan (21st), South Korea (23rd), Malaysia (39th), and Timor Leste (44th).
Globally, Norway topped the index with an average of 9.81, followed by Iceland (9.37), Sweden (9.26), New Zealand (9.25), and Canada (9.24)
The EIU Democracy Index provides a snapshot of the state of world democracy for 165 independent states and two territories. It is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture.
‘Democracy alive in PH’
Malacañang, for its part, maintained that the democracy in the Philippines is “very much alive” despite the country ranking one place lower than last year.
“We will strive to do better pero (but) that ranking shows that democracy is very much alive in the Philippines,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday, February 4.
“Our democratic institutions are working, we have an independent judiciary, an independent legislative department, and of course, an executive department that is always the victim of criticisms,” he added.
Roque also noted that the Philippines was several places ahead of some of its Southeast Asian neighbors — Indonesia (64), Thailand (73), Singapore (74), Myanmar (135), Vietnam (137) and Laos (161).
“Kung titingnan natin ang datos no, naunahan po tayo ng (If you look at data, we are behind) Taiwan, Malaysia at (and) Timor Liste, pero (but) we are ahead of Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos. In other words, ahead of almost all the major countries of Southeast Asia,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador maintained that the Duterte administration is committed to respecting the voices of all citizens.
“The Duterte administration is committed to continue respecting the voices of all citizens, as evidenced by the endless criticisms from the political opposition, the left, as well as the government’s detractors, who have unimpeded access to both local and international press,” he said.
“We will similarly continue to respect and promote the civil liberties of our people as we strive to further develop a democratic political culture and produce a government which efficiently functions to address their needs while encouraging their participation in governance,” Panelo added.