State of peace: RP ranks 130th

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines ranked 130th in the 2010 Global Peace Index (GPI), an international survey that measured the state of peace in 149 countries.

The Philippines slid 10 places from its ranking last year because of internal conflict and crime. It is one of five countries with a steep decline in ranking, along with Cyprus (76th), Syria (115th), Georgia (142nd), and Russia (143rd).

“The Philippines’ slide in the GPI rankings… echoes rises in the archipelago’s indicators of internal conflict and crime,” said the report prepared by international think tank Institute for Economics and Peace.

The Philippines obtained a score of 2.574 for 2010, worse than 2.327 obtained in 2009.

The GPI ranks the state of peace in countries using a scale of one to five, with one being the highest score and five being the lowest.

The ranking of the Philippines in the survey was lower than those of its Southeast Asian neighbors Malaysia (22nd), Singapore (30th), Vietnam (38th), Indonesia (67th), Cambodia (111th), and Thailand (124th). The country, however, ranked better than Myanmar (132nd).

The countries that ranked closer to the Philippines are Ethiopia (127th), India, (128th), Yemen (129th) and Burundi (130th).

The GPI is based on 23 indicators grouped as follows: measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of societal safety and security, and measures of militarization.

The indicators were chosen by an international panel of academics, businessmen, philanthropists, and members of peace institutions.

The report said several regions in the Philippines experienced a worsening security situation in 2009, noting that the conflict between state troops and the Abu Sayyaf caused 163 fatalities in 2009, higher than the 82 recorded in the previous year.

The GPI also cited the postponement of the talks between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the government in 2009. The talks collapsed after the government rejected a demand by communists to free their comrades who are facing criminal charges.

The GPI also cited the rising criminality in the country. “Violent crime is high in many districts and armed guards are routinely deployed to defend private property,” the report said.

“Kidnap-for-ransom is also a high risk, especially among the ethnic Chinese community, which is perceived as wealthy and willing to pay a ransom to secure the release of an abducted relative.”

Sought for comment, the military claimed that the security situation in the Philippines has improved since the GPI study was conducted.

“The data which was used for the 2010 Global Peace Index… were gathered during years 2008-2009. The security situation in the Philippines has immensely improved since,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. told The STAR.

“This is due to the unrelenting efforts of the security agencies in addressing both the internal and external security threats to the country,” he added.

Mabanta said the AFP focuses on immediate security threats like the NPA and the Abu Sayyaf while the Philippine National Police (PNP) deals with criminal incidents.

“The AFP continues to work hand-in-hand with the PNP in improving the security situation in the country,” he said.

New Zealand was regarded as the most peaceful country in 2010 with a score of 1.202. It was followed by Denmark and Norway (tied at 1.217), Iceland (1.225) and Austria (1.252). On the other hand, countries that ranked lowest were Iraq (149th) with a score of 3.406, Somalia (3.390), Afghanistan (3.252), Sudan (3.125) and Pakistan (3.050). -Alexis Romero, Philstar.com

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