MANILA, Philippines – As the world became less peaceful for 7 years in a row in 2013, the Philippines also slipped in the global peace ranking.
The Philippines remains to be in the lowest quartile of the 2014 Global Peace Index prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace, ranking 134 out of 162 countries – a drop of 5 places from 2012.
This is due the presence of both internal and external challenges to peace.
The Philippines was one of the countries found to have “notable increases in terrorist activity” in 2013, along with countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The index did not provide details on what these activities were.
Another factor that contributed to this result is the country’s ongoing territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In 2013, the Philippines was also one of the countries with the largest discrepancy between levels of peace and democracy as the country continued to rank low in the peace index even as it exhibited “strong democratic credentials.”
The Aquino government signed a final peace accord in March with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – the biggest organized armed group in the Philippines. The agreement aims to entrench a new autonomous government in Southern Philippines with a better political and fiscal structure than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which it will replace.
Even as the government and the MILF work towards implementing the peace accord, other armed groups, reportedly with terrorist connections, continue to exist. (READ: Philippine militants pledge allegiance to ISIS jihadists and Senior Abu Sayyaf leader swears oath to ISIS)
More than dealing with arms and law enforcement, the report said societal and political issues – such as widespread graft and corruption in government and the “patron-client nature” of political institutions must also be addressed.
The report lauded the abolition of the pork barrel system in 2013 as an “important step” towards the responsible use of personal funds and making politics “less personalized” but noted that is still “insufficient.”
Meanwhile, the report said the case filed by the Philippines against China before UNCLOS to claim parts of the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) is “risky” as it could “result in a long-term estrangement between the two sides.”
Across the world, the index found that global peace has deteriorated since 2008, with conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the Gaza strip and Libya, among others, dominating media coverage.
How much did conflict and violence all over the world cost? A total of $9.8 trillion in damages, corresponding to 11.3% of global gross domestic product (GDP), the report said. This is equal to twice the total GDP of the entire Africa.
Iceland remains to be the most peaceful country in the world. Meanwhile, Syria replaced Afghanistan at the bottom as the situation in Syria further deteriorated in 2013 while Afghanistan marked a slight improvement.
The index ranks the peace situation in each country not just by the lack of conflict, whether external or internal, but also by looking at how the country maintains and prevents conflict.
Among the factors considered were:
- Well-functioning government
- Sound business environment
- Equitable distribution of resources
- Acceptance of the rights of others
- Good relations with neighbors
- Free flow of information
- High level of human capital
- Low levels of corruption.