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Philippines falls in global good governance index

HONOR GUARDS hold the Philippine flag in Caloocan, Nov. 30, 2020. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES’ ranking in a global good governance index worsened after it dropped three spots to rank 66th out of 104 countries.

The country’s overall score slipped by 0.015 point to 0.469, the third lowest in the East Asia and the Pacific region, according to the Chandler Institute of Governance’s 2023 Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI) released on Wednesday.

This was the Philippines’ worst performance since the annual index started in 2021, when it ranked 61st. The country placed 63rd in 2022. 

In the Asia-Pacific region, Manila lagged behind Singapore (1st), New Zealand (10th), Japan (13th), Australia (16th), South Korea (18th), Malaysia (33rd), China (36th), Indonesia (46th), Thailand (47th) and Vietnam (49th).

The Philippines was only ahead of Mongolia (72nd) and Cambodia (88th).

Singapore topped the index, followed by Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

At the bottom of the list are Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Mali, Nigeria, Lebanon, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Iran, Ethiopia, and Madagascar.

According to the CGGI, the Philippines scored 0.359 in Leadership and Foresight, 0.480 in Robust Laws and Policies, 0.443 in Strong Institutions, 0.554 in Financial Stewardship, 0.536 in Attractive Marketplace, 0.401 in Global Influence and Reputation, and 0.493 in Helping People Rise.

“It is alarming that the ranking of the public sector capability and performance of the Philippines has decreased,” Dennis F. Quilala, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said in an e-mail.

“This is more disconcerting given that our neighbors have improved their performances,” he said. 

Mr. Quilala noted that compared with 2022, the Philippines scores went down in key areas such as leadership, laws and policies, and financial stewardship.

“Since 2022, ethical leadership, rule of law, quality of the judiciary, capacity of institutions to implement programs, and protection of property rights have been concerns,” he said. “Philippine scores on these indicators are below global standards. It is possible that this year, these have remained below global standards and more indicators have gone down.”

Mr. Quilala said it will be a challenge for the Marcos administration to improve the capacity of the government in providing services to its citizens.

“The CGGI ranking of the Philippines in 2023 provides a guide to what the Marcos administration needs to do in improving the bureaucracy,” he said.

Zy-za Nadine Suzara, executive director of governance think tank I-Lead, said the Philippines’ ranking in global governance indices continue to fall and far below its Southeast Asian neighbors. 

“We dropped two notches in this year’s CGGI, falling to the 66th place, while Vietnam climbed seven notches to 49th place,” she said. “Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam’s ranking are in the middle tier. We are below that.”

Ms. Suzara urged the Marcos administration to work harder to fix government institutions, improve spending efficiency, and drive innovation in strategic areas.

“These are among the key pillars where we lag behind the global average score. Clearly, the President and his administration should address those governance gaps if it wants to generate concrete investment from its foreign trade promotion activities,” she said.

Policy analyst Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco said Filipino voters should look at the index and acknowledge that it’s up to them to change the quality of governance in the country.

“For as long as we vote for bad leaders, our place in this index will never change,” he said.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s predecessor, Rodrigo R. Duterte, had been criticized for failing to uphold good governance standards during his six-year term, as his administration faced allegations of corruption and human rights violations.

Mr. Marcos is seen veering away from some of Mr. Duterte’s key policies, including the former president’s pivot away from western countries such as the United States.

“What the index implies is that even by the neoliberal bent of the Philippine state when it comes to engaging with economic actors (i.e. prioritizing policies that are market friendly even if they don’t necessarily promote democracy and improve the quality of life), the Philippines under Marcos is failing by that standard,” Hansley A. Juliano, a political economy researcher, said via Messenger chat.

Philip Arnold “Randy” P. Tuaño, dean of the Ateneo School of Government, said that to improve the country’s good governance ranking “we need to eventually improve our capacity to strengthen our ability to respond to events that adversely affect our public institutions.”

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