“As safe as New Zealand”: PH ranks 12th in safest countries in the world

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Image: Reuters/Czar Dancel

They say that safety isn’t a warning device but a state of mind. If that’s true, then it probably reflects in this recent study showing the Philippines as one of the safest countries in the world

According to the 2020 Global Law and Order Report conducted by Washington D.C.-based analytics firm, Gallup, the Philippines is the 12th safest country in the world, garnering an index of 84, a couple of points higher than the average of 82. This puts it at par with New Zealand, Australia, Poland, and Serbia, and higher than other countries like Greece, Russia, Italy, South Korea, and even the United Kingdom.


But what is safety in their standards? Gathering the response of about 175,000 adults across 144 countries, the survey included questions regarding citizens’ perception of personal safety, including:

  • Their confidence in the local police force assigned in the area where they live;
  • Their peace of mind when walking alone at night in the area where they live;
  • Incidences of theft experienced by anyone in the household within the last 12 months, and;
  • Incidences of assault experienced by anyone in the household within the last 12 months

Fair warning, though: while it is labeled as the 2020 report, the data reflects the responses dating from 2019. 

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. considered the report as proof of progress in terms of security, and thanked all the law enforcers, peace workers, and the general public for their “commitment to peace.”

To be fair, the report is transparent; by accounting for citizens’ perception of safety based on police presence, then they will very likely feel secured. At least that’s what local human rights groups surmise. 

Carlos Conde of the Human Rights Watch said that the survey is 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.”

He’s talking about the ongoing drug war where almost 8,000 suspects have been slain by the local police in drug-related operations.

The same sentiment is shared by Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of Karapatan, who said that the survey should have taken into consideration the “complexities of police presence and impunity among its indicators.” 

Without these considerations, then maybe safety is just a mindset — by whoever’s still alive to partake in these surveys, that is. 

(images of Global Law and Order 2020 report from Gallup)

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