The Philippine government may dispute its ranking as the least safe among 134 countries included in a list drawn up by New York-based Global Finance magazine. There are 195 countries including the Holy See and the Palestinian state, so the ranking doesn’t make the Philippines the least safe in the world.
Rather than quibbling over the ranking, however, a better response is the one given by Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the Philippine National Police. While Eleazar also disputed the ranking, he said he would take it as a challenge to do better in maintaining peace and order.
Personal safety is one of the metrics in the Global Finance study, which also ranked the Philippines last in a similar report the previous year. Insurgencies, armed extremists, private armies and a brutal war on drugs that has claimed nearly 8,000 lives since 2016, as counted by the PNP itself, have also posed threats to personal safety across the country.
Apart from personal security, Global Finance based the rankings on 2020 statistics on economic stability, threats of war, natural disasters as well as healthcare issues, which include pandemic response.
Ranked as the world’s safest states were Iceland followed by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Singapore and then Finland. Just ahead of the Philippines, at the bottom of the list, were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Guatemala and Colombia.
The monthly magazine cited the Philippines as one of the countries with “serious civil conflict” and at risk of natural disasters. It added that while the country has a “relatively low death toll” from COVID, it “performed poorly in terms of safety overall.”
The Philippines can’t dispute the risks posed by natural calamities. Its location makes it a proverbial welcome mat for tropical cyclones from the Pacific Ocean. The country is dotted with volcanoes and lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it prone to powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. But the country can ramp up its disaster preparedness and mitigation measures.
More effort can also be made in ending armed conflict arising from insurgencies and extremism. And the magazine is not the first to rate poorly the Philippines’ pandemic response; economic analysts are saying that the country is on its way to becoming Asia’s basket case. As Eleazar said, the ranking, even if deemed unfair by the government, should be seen as a challenge to do better in making the country a safer place.
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