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Gallup: PH among the safest countries in the world

/ 05:48 AM November 05, 2020

(Editor’s note: We are republishing this report to clarify the index score ranking of the Philippines based on the Gallup survey)

MANILA, Philippines — An international survey said that the Philippines was one of the safest countries in the world as its citizens feel secure and have confidence in the police.

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Local rights groups, however, found the results ironic, considering the questionable record of the police under the Duterte government’s war on drugs.

According to the Washington-based Gallup Global Law and Order 2020 index, the Philippines tied with Australia, New Zealand, Poland and Serbia with an index score of 84. The five countries were actually in the 37th-41st places in the listing, but their index score of 84 was 12th in the overall index score ranking.

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The survey looked at 144 countries across the world. Singapore and Turkmenistan ranked highest with 97 percent, followed by China (93 percent), and Iceland and Kuwait (93 percent). War-torn Afghanistan ranked last with 43 percent.

7 in 10 feel safe

Overall, the study said that nearly seven in 10 people worldwide said they felt safe and had confidence in the local police.

“In most economically developed countries with strong rule of law, the majority of residents say they feel safe walking alone in their areas at night. This response is nearly universal in Singapore and tops 80 percent in many Western European countries. The same is true for more highly state-controlled countries,” it noted.

As in previous years, people in Latin America and the Caribbean were “least likely” to feel secure in their communities, Gallup noted. Southeast Asia also slightly ranked higher than the United States and Canada.

According to the study, the index “provide(s) a baseline for how the world will respond to the challenges that have surfaced during ensuing crises, including those related to law enforcement in the US and elsewhere.”

Not surprising

For local human rights groups, however, the results were not surprising given the prevalence of law enforcers in communities since the start of the drug war.

Human Rights Watch senior Philippine researcher Carlos Conde said the survey was in no way “an endorsement” of the way the police conducted the drug war nor could it be interpreted as an exoneration of their abuses since 2016.

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“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,” Conde said in a message to the Inquirer.

But 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.

Needs context

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay expressed the same sentiment and said that any framework in gathering public responses to such issues “must always 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,” she noted, adding that the survey should have included the complexities of police presence and impunity among its indicators.

“Narratives bereft of such frameworks may be unwittingly used to justify human rights violations in the name of ‘security,’” she said.

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TAGS: Gallup 2020 Global Law and Order Report, safest countries
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