Guess How Far the Philippines Has Fallen on the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index

Look at all these changes!

This year, the Philippines has the unique distinction of being the “biggest mover” on the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index. We rank 88th out of 113 countries, which is 18 places lower than our 2016 rank. And in East Asia and the Pacific, we rank 13th out of 15 countries. As usual, the Nordic countries topped the list, with Denmark, Norway, and Finland placing first, second, and third respectively.

The index measures the rule of law by interviewing ordinary people and consulting local experts about the situation in their respective countries. The World Justice Project conducts a general population poll with around 1,000 respondents from the three biggest cities in each country. They also ask local experts in civil and commercial law, public health, labor law, and criminal justice to answer “qualified respondents’ questionnaires.”

In this way, they ensure that their scores are reflective of the way citizens view and experience the rule of law in their own countries. The World Justice Project measures rule of law based on eight factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order & Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice.

So what happened to us? Our country profile shows that our scores have trended downwards in the areas of Constraints on Government Powers, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, and Criminal Justice. Each area has sub-factors which are scored from 0 to 1—1 meaning the rule of law is strongest.

Among these criteria, our score for “absence of civil conflict” took the biggest hit, falling 0.43 points from 0.76 in 2016 to 0.33 in 2017. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the fact that one of last year’s biggest issues was the Marawi conflict.


Our scores in the area of Fundamental Rights took a hit as well. When it comes to the “right to life and security,” our score went from 0.34 to 0.20. Our “right to privacy” score also slid from 0.41 to 0.30. The World Justice Project measures the right to privacy as “whether the police or other government officials conduct physical searches without warrants, or intercept electronic communications of private individuals without judicial authorization.”

Their definition of the right to life and security also makes it easy to surmise why our score fell: “whether the police inflict physical harm upon criminal suspects during arrest and interrogation, and whether political dissidents or members of the media are subjected to unreasonable searches or to arrest, detention, imprisonment, threats, abusive treatment, or violence.”

When one recalls the controversy surrounding Oplan Tokhang, not to mention the uproar over police conducting surprise inspections at bars along Katipunan last September, it’s easy to see why our scores took a hit.

Within the category of Criminal Justice, our score for “effective investigations” took the biggest fall from 0.53 to 0.39. This metric measures “whether perpetrators of crimes are effectively apprehended and charged. It also measures whether police, investigators, and prosecutors have adequate resources, are free of corruption, and perform their duties competently.”

It is also worth noting that our score for “absence of crime” has not improved. This sub-factor reflects how safe people feel in their respective communities, as well the “prevalence of common crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, burglary and theft, armed robbery, and extortion.” Judging from these numbers alone, it seems that respondents felt their rights to life and privacy were not as valued as the year before, and they don’t feel any safer for it.

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Angelica Gutierrez
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