Freedom House: Philippines is 'partly free'

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 25 2014 02:06 AM | Updated as of Jan 25 2014 10:06 AM

WASHINGTON – The Philippines retained its status for the fourth straight year as a "partly free" country but was a standout among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members in a survey of political rights and civil liberties in 195 nations conducted by Freedom House.

The Washington-based non-government organization, in its Freedom in the World 2014 report, rated the Philippines one of 59 “partly free” countries and gave it a score of 3 points each in political rights and civil liberties. Eighty-eight countries were ranked as “free” and 48 were deemed “not free.”

ASEAN members Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore were in the “partly free” grouping and all, with the exception of Indonesia, had scores of 4 points each in political rights and civil liberties.

Indonesia’s status declined from “free” to “partly free” due to the adoption of a law that, among other things, restricts activities of non-government organizations and increases bureaucratic oversight of such groups, Freedom House said.

Its civil liberties rating declined also from 3 to 4 though it managed to eke out a score of 2 points in political rights.

It was the second time this month that the Philippines received a positive international rating.

Last week, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal in their 2014 Index of World Economic Freedom upgraded the Philippines to 89th place from 97th previously out of 178 countries because of “a dedication of reform amongst the country’s leadership.”

Freedom House examines the ability of individuals to exercise their political and civil rights around the world and assigns each country two numerical ratings – from 1 to 7 – for political rights and civil liberties. The average of the ratings determines whether a country is free, partly free or not free.

One point represents the most free and seven the least free rating.

The remaining five other members of the ASEAN – Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Myanmar and Cambodia – were deemed not free in the Freedom House report.