MANILA – Political instability, violence, inequality, and external challenges have made the Philippines one of the least peaceful countries in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a report.
The Global Peace Index (GPI) 2013, developed by Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace, showed that the Philippines ranked 134th out of the 162 countries in terms of peacefulness, dropping five notches from its ranking last year.
The Philippines is one of the countries lowest ranked in the Asia Pacific region, even behind Thailand and only beating Myanmar and North Korea.
In the Asia Pacific region, which is the third most peaceful region in the world after Europe and North America, New Zealand (4th) topped list.
New Zealand is followed by Japan (8th), Australia (15th), Singapore (25th), Taiwan (28th), Malaysia (33rd), Laos (38th), Mongolia (41st), Vietnam (45th), South Korea (52nd), Indonesia (54th), Timor-Leste (69th), Papua New Guinea (90), Cambodia (106th), China (108th), Thailand (126th), Philippines (134th), Myanmar (136th), and North Korea (153).
The report categorized the state of peace in the Philippines as ''medium'', scoring 2.456 in the index on a scale of 1 to 5, with one being the highest.
The Philippine scored 2.6 in the sub-category on ''ongoing domestic and international conflict; 1.732 on ''militarization'' and 2.691 on ''societal safety and security.''
It added that the Philippines is listed among the ten countries with ''peace deficit.'' Countries with peace deficit have strong, democratic institutions but perform poorly in the GPI rankings.
Corruption, China conflict
Internal conflict, level of violent crime, political terror, terrorist activity, corruption and poverty are considered factors that led the Philippines to land on the bottom quartile of the GPI.
''There is a widely held belief that graft among the elite is the reason why poverty rates and income inequality have remained very high by regional standards, despite strong economic performance in the past decade. The patron-client nature of underlying relations also plays a role. These relationships can distort the allocation of resources away from the areas where they are most needed, or could be used most effectively,'' the report read.
''In parts of the Philippines, this system combines with disputes over ethnicity-related matters, to result in violence between wealthy political families who seek to maintain control over the sources of their power and influence."
The external challenge posed to the Philippines by China over the South China Sea also caused the Philippines' score for relations with neighboring countries to deteriorate this year.
The complications in resolving the South China Sea dispute and the difficult task of implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which is hoped to ensure lasting peace in the volatile Mindanao region, are considered barriers to peace in the Philippines.
The report, meanwhile, said that 2.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product is being spent for violence containment.
It also noted that the Philippines has a ''flawed democracy'', placing 69th among the 167 countries studied in the 2012 Democracy Index Rank.
Overall, Iceland topped the GPI ranking. It is followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finlad, Canada, Japan, Belgium, and Norway.
The bottom 10, in descending order, is comprised of countries North Korea, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria.