By Helen Flores, January 30 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ ranking has improved 12 notches in the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) conducted by the global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

The Philippines obtained a score of 36 in 2018 from 34 in 2017, jumping from 111th to 99th out of 180 countries.

The country’s score, however, is still far from the Asia-Pacific regional average of 44, Transparency International noted.

It said the Philippines received the same score in 2013 under the previous administration.

The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people.

It uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is “highly corrupt” and 100 is “very clean.”

The top 10 “least corrupt” countries are Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Canada and Luxembourg.

The 2018 CPI showed that anti-corruption efforts are “stalled” in most countries, according to Transparency International.

“The continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world,” it said.

“With several democratic institutions under threat across the globe – often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies – we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” Transparency International managing director Patricia Moreira said.

“Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption,” Moreira said.

Somalia, South Sudan and Syria are at the bottom of the index, with 10, 13 and 13 points, respectively.

The anti-corruption watchdog said full democracies score an average of 75, “flawed democracies” score 49; “hybrid regimes,” which show elements of autocratic tendencies, score 35; “autocratic regimes” perform worst, with an average score of  30 on the CPI.

To make real progress against corruption and strengthen democracy around the world, Transparency International encouraged all governments to strengthen the institutions responsible for maintaining checks and balances over political power and ensure their ability to operate without intimidation.

It said governments should support civil society organizations, which enhance political engagement and public oversight over government spending, particularly at the local level.

Transparency International also called on governments to support a free and independent media and ensure the safety of journalists and their ability to work without intimidation or harassment.