Drug war, Marawi pull down PH in Global Peace Index

Sofia Tomacruz
Drug war, Marawi pull down PH in Global Peace Index
The Philippines slides one place to 137th out of 163 countries in the 2018 Global Peace Index, and remains second to the last in the Asia Pacific, besting only North Korea

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody anti-drug campaign and the 5-month siege in Marawi City pulled down the Philippines’ ranking in the 2018 Global Peace Index.

The Philippines slid one place to 137th out of 163 countries in the 2018 index, from 136th in the previous index.

The country also remained second to the last in the Asia Pacific region, besting only North Korea, which ranked 150th.

According to the report of the Institute for Economics and Peace, the Philippines “suffered particularly badly as President Duterte continued his assault on alleged drug dealers and from the 5-month battle between government forces and Islamic militants who took over the city of Marawi.”

In May 2017, war erupted in Marawi City as government forces battled local armed groups that had pledged allegiance to international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).

It prompted the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, which remains in effect to this day, despite Marawi City declared liberated from terrorists in October 2017. (READ: War vs pro-ISIS PH groups rages on a year after Marawi siege)

A total of about 1,200 people – 168 of them government troops – were killed during the war.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) recorded over 4,000 people killed in police anti-drug operations since the start of the Duterte administration on June 30, 2016. (READ: The Impunity Series)

However, human rights advocates alleged that over 20,000 people have been killed in the anti-drug campaign, with about 16,355 homicide cases classified by the PNP as “deaths under investigation.” (READ: TIMELINE: The PNP’s use of the term ‘deaths under investigation’)

Latest data from the PNP also showed an average of 4 people are killed each day by riding-in-tandem shooters. (READ: 4 killed a day by riding-in-tandem gunmen in the Philippines)

CLIMATE OF FEAR. A husband and wife are shot by unidentified gunmen riding in tandem in Calbayog City, Samar. File photo by Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler

Increased weapon imports, improved country relations

The report also noted both an increase in weapon imports alongside improved relations between neighboring countries in the region. Both were explained in context of China’s movements.

The report said the Philippines was among the countries that increased weapon imports last year, as China continued to exert itself “both militarily and politically in the region.” (LOOK: Photos compare developed China, Vietnam reefs to bare Philippine islands)

Weapon imports to Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand also increased.

Improvements in the region, meanwhile, were noted in the areas of “internal and external conflicts fought” and “relations with neighboring countries.”

The report highlighted the warming of ties between Beijing and Manila as Duterte “reached an understanding with China” and as South Korean President Moon Jae-in reestablished ties with China.

Overall, the study reported the global level of peace deteriorated by 0.27% in the past year, with 6 out of 9 regions falling in peacefulness. It marked the 4th straight year of deterioration.

The Global Peace Index ranked 163 countries according to their level of peacefulness, covering 99.7% of the world’s population. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.