MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The Philippines' ranking among the world's most corrupt countries improved slightly, based on the 2011 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International on Thursday.
The Philippines came in at 129 with a 2.6 CPI in Transparency International's list that ranks 178 countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.
This is better than the Philippines' 134th ranking in 2010 with a 2.4 CPI. The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 - 10, where 0 means that a country is perceived as highly corrupt and 10 means that a country is perceived as very clean.
Transparency International-Philippines said some of the factors that contributed to the Philippines' (2.6) slight jump are the improvement in government service, and cutting red tape.
The group believes that the government's efforts to prosecute former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may positively affect the perception on corruption as this shows the government means business.
“This year we have seen corruption on protestors’ banners be they rich or poor. Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International, in a statement.
The Philippines 129 ranking puts it at the same level as Honduras, Dominican Republic and Syria.
But this is the Philippines' highest ranking since 2007 when it ranked 131st with a score of 2.5. In 2010 and 2009, the Philippines had a score of 2.4, showing virtually no improvement in the corruption index.
President Benigno Aquino assumed power last year on a platform of good governance and anti-corruption, and has been actively pursuing electoral sabotage and corruption cases against his predecessor Arroyo.
Among 35 Asia-Pacific countries in the list, the Philippines is still perceived as one of the most corrupt, ranking 25th.
Most corrupt, least corrupt
North Korea, along with Somalia, was judged as the most corrupt not just in Asia but in the world.
"There are no checks and balances in North Korea, no public accountability and total political control of the judiciary. And on top of that, civil society as we know it does not exist there," TI Managing Director Cobus de Swardt told Reuters.
Most worrying, he said, was that high levels of corruption fundamentally undermine food distribution, painting a grim picture for North Korea, where the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned of a coming "nutrition crisis".
About two thirds of countries ranked in the index this year scored 5.0 or less.
Other Asia-Pacific countries perceived as highly corrupt are Myanmar (180), Myanmar (180), Afghanistan (180), Cambodia (164), Nepal (154), Papua New Guinea (154) and Laos (154).
On the other hand, New Zealand was judged as the "least corrupt", topping the list with a 9.5 CPI. The top 5 also included Denmark (2), Finland (2), Sweden (4) and Singapore (5). - with Reuters