PH ‘least safe’ ranking traced to poor handling of pandemic
Global Finance magazine, which ranked the Philippines the lowest in its “World’s Safest Countries 2021” rankings, said it mainly took into consideration the risks from the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a score of 14.8899, the Philippines fell to the bottom of the list at 134th place—below Colombia (133 and 14.8461) and even lower than war-torn Yemen (124 and 13.7672)—making it the least safe of the countries that were assessed.
Global Finance said the safety score for countries took into account “three fundamental factors”—war and peace, personal security and natural disaster risk, “including the unique risk factors stemming from COVID-19.”
“Compared to the fundamental factors, our COVID-19 scores weight deaths per capita from the disease twice as heavily as the other factors and takes vaccinations per capita as a countervailing or positive factor into account, weighing it equally as the other fundamentals,” it explained.
“In essence, a country’s overall score is made up of one-half fundamental factors, one-third COVID-19 deaths per capita, and one-sixth COVID vaccination per capita,” it said in its July 6 report.
It said the 2021 scores were mostly based on data from 2020 but those directly related to COVID-19 used data as late as May 30 this year.
It said deaths due to COVID-19 was a “direct measure of how well or poorly” a country responded to the spread of disease. This, in turn, is based on the country’s “health-care infrastructure, government capabilities, political leadership and culture in face of a major, unexpected crisis.”
Vaccinations per capita reflects a country’s “financial power and future performance via preventative measures stemming further outbreaks,” it added.
‘With grain of salt’
But Global Finance had a caveat: “These rankings and scores should be taken with a grain of salt compared to previous editions.”
It said the COVID-19 death tolls and the vaccination rates are “largely based on self-reporting by governments,” and that some countries like China, Tanzania and Venezuela “may not be producing credible figures.”
It said it obtained data from the Global Institute for Peace, World Economic Forum, Safety and Tourism Report and the World Risk Report.
Global Finance also listed the Philippines as the most unsafe country in 2019, placing it at 128th place below Yemen.
According to its website, the magazine is part of Italian finance and lifestyle media company Class Editori Group whose readers are mostly top executives “responsible for making investment and strategic business decisions at multinational companies and financial institutions” in 163 countries.
Palace: Just one opinion
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday dismissed the magazine report as only an “opinion” and just “one among many varied points of view.”
He said, the Filipinos themselves were pleased with the Duterte administration’s handling of the pandemic, citing the 86-percent satisfaction rating it received in the December 2020 Pulse Asia survey.
“In addition, we are on track in achieving our target of population protection in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces by November this year as long as the supply of vaccines remains stable,” he said.
Roque said the country’s COVID-19 mortality “remains one of the lowest at 1.76 percent” as of July 8 and that Filipinos were “growing more resilient and adaptive.”
Roque stressed that the Philippines was not at war and crimes had significantly gone down since community quarantine was imposed last year.
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Friday said the crime statistics “do not match our ranking in the report.”
He said the crime rate in the country in the first five years of the Duterte administration went down by 63 percent from what it was in previous administrations.
He said the effects of the Taal Volcano eruption last year and other natural disasters and attacks by terrorist groups “are beyond the control of the government.”
“Nevertheless, we will take this latest ranking as a challenge to do more in terms of further improving the peace and order security in the country,” Eleazar said.
Other global ratings
The Philippines also does not rank high in other global gauges.
It dropped two ranks from 2020 to 138th place in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index report in April of Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontière, or Reporters Without Borders, following “persecution” of the media and online “harassment campaigns orchestrated by pro-Duterte troll armies.”
In June, Bloomberg’s global study which measured resilience to the pandemic ranked the Philippines 52nd of 53 economies just ahead of Argentina.
In a study by the Australian think-tank Lowy Institute released in March, the Philippines ranked 81st out of 102 countries rated for their performance in relation to the fight against COVID-19.
In 2019, the Philippines recorded the highest number of land rights and environmental defenders killed among Asian countries with 43, which was also the second highest in the world behind Colombia, out of a total of 212 killed that year, according to environment and human rights watchdog Global Witness.
—WITH REPORTS FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, DEXTER CABALZA AND ARIANNE SUAREZ, INQUIRER RESEARCH
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.