MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday said democracy in the Philippines is "very much alive" even after the country slipped one spot in a global index, lagging behind some of its Southeast Asian neighbors.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said the Philippines ranked 55th out of 167 countries in the Democracy Index 2020 released on Wednesday, below its 54th spot in 2019, 53rd in 2018, and 51st in 2017.
"Hindi po iyan major slip, kumbaga," Palace spokesman Harry Roque said of the Philippine ranking.
(That is not a major slip.)
While Taiwan, Malaysia and Timor Leste placed higher than the Philippines, it was ahead of Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos in the index, said Roque.
The EIU said the Philippines scored 6.56 in terms of electoral process and pluralism, functioning government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties.
This put the Philippines under the "flawed democracy" category, in which countries "have free and fair elections, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom)," said the London-based think tank.
"We will strive to do better, but that ranking po shows that democracy is very much alive in the Philippines," Roque told reporters in an online briefing.
"Our democratic institutions are working. We have an independent judiciary, an independent legislative department, and of course, an executive department that is always the victim of criticisms," added the official.