By ABS-CBN News, March 2 2019

Image Credit to ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Philippines improved its ranking but remains to be among the lowest in a global index on the rule of law, placing 90th out of 126 in the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2019.

This year’s ranking was an improvement from 88th place out of 113 countries in the 2017 to 2018 index.

The country also placed at the bottom of the roster for East Asia and the Pacific region, ranking 13th out of 15, ahead only of Myanmar and Cambodia. It ranked 14th out of 30 among lower middle income countries.

Overall, ranked at the top of the WJP Rule of Law Index 2019 were Denmark (1), Norway (2), and Finland (3). The bottom three were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (124), Cambodia (125), and Venezuela (126).

Meanwhile, East Asia and Pacific’s top performer was New Zealand (8th out of 126 countries globally), followed by Australia and Singapore.

“Effective rule of law is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity, and peace,” William Neukom, WJP founder and CEO, said in the report.

“No country has achieved a perfect realization of the rule of law. The WJP Rule of Law Index is intended to be a first step in setting benchmarks, informing reforms, stimulating programs, and deepening appreciation and understanding for the foundational importance of the rule of law.”

The index measures rule of law adherence in 126 countries and jurisdictions worldwide based on more than 120,000 household and 3,800 expert surveys.

Washington-based WJP said the index “measures countries’ rule of law performance across eight factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice.”

Malacañang welcomed the Philippines’ gain in the index, attributing this to government’s efforts.

“We are pleased of the Philippines’ improved global rank in 2019 (from 88 out of 113 countries in 2017-2018 to 90 out of 126 countries in 2018-2019) as a result of our initiatives,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

In a statement, Panelo said the WJP organization defines effective rule of law as reducing corruption, combating poverty and disease and protecting people from injustice. He said all of these are embodied in the Duterte administration’s Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.

“We will not rest and continue exerting efforts on this aspect,” said Panelo.

Panelo said Malacañang needs the help of all branches of government in ensuring that the four universal principles of the WJP rule of law framework – accountability, just laws, open government, and accessible and impartial dispute resolution- are carried out.

“We need the support of Congress for the enactment of laws under just laws and open government, as well as the cooperation of the Judicial Branch for the timely delivery of justice under accessible and impartial dispute resolution,” he said.

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte earlier drew criticism for alleged violations of the rule of law in pursuit of its bloody war on drugs and the arrest of critics. Administration officials have many times defended the campaign, saying drug suspects slain in police operations had resisted arrest.

Upon his inauguration in 2016, Duterte vowed to follow the rule of law.