THE Philippines is among the top 50 safest countries in the world, according to a recent survey by American analytics firm Gallup.
In its 2020 Global Law and Order index, Gallup listed the Philippines as the 12th safest country with a law and order index score of 84. It shares the same spot with Australia, New Zealand, Poland, and Serbia.
The survey, conducted from October 8 to 24 last year, asked nearly 175,000 adults in 144 countries and areas the following questions to gauge the “personal security” of countries:
• In the city or area where you live, do you have confidence in the local police force?
• Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?
• Within the last 12 months, have you had money or property stolen from you or another household member?
• Within the past 12 months, have you been assaulted or mugged?
“Some areas were excluded from the sampling frame, due to security concerns – such as barangays considered as war zones in Marawi – and areas that are remote or inaccessible. The excluded population from these areas represent less than 1 percent of the population,” said Gallup.
Singapore and Turkmenistan emerged as the safest countries with a law and order index score of 97. They are followed by China (93 percent), Iceland and Kuwait (93 percent).
Meanwhile, Afghanistan ranked the lowest with a score of 43.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, November 5, admitted he was surprised that the country ranked highly on the survey.
“I read that in the briefer and I was really surprised. We are on the top 50 and we are lumped with countries that are ideally peaceful,” he said.
He added, “If it’s a recent Gallup survey, it only shows that…well we have to credit the police and the military and the other uniformed personnel of [the] government who toil to make this country at least very peaceful.”
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process likewise welcomed the survey.
“We are glad to be recognized as among the safest countries in the world. Thanks to our law enforcers, peace workers, and everyone who has made a commitment to peace, we are moving forward as a peaceful, progressive and resilient nation,” Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said.
The Philippine Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) also stressed that the report is proof that “the government is winning the war against criminality and drugs.”
“The government is even more committed to maintaining its current efforts against crime and drugs following the Philippines’ excellent standing in a prestigious worldwide survey on people’s views on their security,” the agency said.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, meanwhile, said: “It is very reassuring for us working in the government knowing that the people feel safe in their homes and on the streets…The goal is to sustain this rating in the long run for the safety of the people and the country.”
Local human rights group Karapatan, for its part, pointed out that surveys about such issues should “integrate the rights-based approach and framework to provide a more holistic analyses on such responses.”
“In countries like the Philippines, [confidence] in law enforcement in addressing crime and security issues is not a mere yes or no question, especially if the indicators are not placed in context,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
“Narratives bereft of such frameworks may be unwittingly used to justify human rights violations in the name of ‘security’,” she added.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch senior Philippine researcher Carlos Conde said the survey was not an endorsement of police operations against the country’s drug war.
“When you have high police visibility and presence, of course people will feel safe. This is also consistent with statistics from the police that the crime rate has been going down,” he told Inquirer.
“(The study) does not negate the fact that police conduct during the ‘drug war’ has been abusive, resulting in the deaths of thousands since 2016 and practically zero accountability. Moreover, [most] of the victims of the ‘drug war’ had been demonized thoroughly and so the public at large [have] no sympathy for them,” he added.