By Jelo Ritzhie Mantaring, February 1, 2023; CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 1) — The Philippines ranked 116th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2022, which assesses the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories globally.

The latest rank is just a notch higher than the Philippines’ 2021 standing, with Transparency International still listing the country as among the “significant decliners” in the Asia-Pacific region.

The country’s latest CPI score was 33, unchanged from the previous year and its lowest score in the index. It dropped from the 2014 score of 38, the country’s highest.

Transparency International defined the scale as zero meaning “highly corrupt” and 100 as “very clean.”

In its 2021 index, the Berlin-based watchdog reported that the Philippines saw “a sharp decline in freedom of association and freedom of expression, making it harder to speak up about corruption” since the election of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Other “significant decliners” in the region were Malaysia, Pakistan, Australia, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka.

“In recent years, democracy has been declining in the region, including in some of the most populous countries in the world, such as India (43), the Philippines (33) and Bangladesh (25),” its Asia-Pacific report read.

It also said corruption thrives in the region as politicians make empty promises to combat it and regimes consolidate power by curtailing space for dissent with more draconian laws.

Denmark topped the index with a CPI score of 90, followed by Finland and New Zealand with 87, and Norway with 84.

The top 10 countries have reported score declines this year, except for Denmark and Ireland (ranked 10th).

At the bottom of the list: Somalia with a score of 12, South Sudan and Syria with 13, Venezuela with 14, and Yemen with 16.

Meanwhile, the country shared the 116th rank with six countries: Algeria, Angola, El Salvador, Mongolia, Ukraine, and Zambia.

Transparency International said the 2022 index showed that most countries are failing to stop corruption as the global average score of 43 remains unchanged for over a decade. The Asia-Pacific region’s average was 45 for the fourth year in a row.

It also said more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, while 26 countries have fallen to their lowest scores yet.

“Despite concerted efforts and hard-won gains by some, 155 countries have made no significant progress against corruption or have declined since 2012,” the watchdog said.

It also attributed corruption as a key cause and result of the deterioration of global peace.

Daniel Eriksson, chief executive officer of Transparency International, urged governments to open up space and include activists, business owners, marginalized communities, and the youth in decision-making.

“In democratic societies, the people can raise their voices to help root out corruption and demand a safer world for us all,” he added.