MANILA (3rd UPDATE) — The Philippines has landed at the bottom of an international business magazine's list of the "world's safest countries" in 2021, with Iceland figuring at the top of 134 countries evaluated.
In a ranking published Tuesday, Global Finance said it scored the countries based on 3 factors:
• war and peace
• personal security
• natural disaster risk, including those stemming from COVID-19
"Global Finance's safest countries in the world rankings features updated data and sources, a new time frame, and incorporates each country’s experience and risk from COVID-19," the publication said.
This was not the first time the Philippines was ranked last in the magazine's "safest countries" list. In its last edition in 2019, the Southeast Asian nation likewise landed at the bottom out of 128 countries listed.
"While COVID-19 reshuffled our world's safest countries ranking, it did not boost the worst-performing countries and their relative rankings. Countries with serious civil conflict that have high risks from natural disaster such as the Philippines, Nigeria, Yemen, and El Salvador all reported relatively low death tolls from COVID-19, yet performed poorly in terms of safety overall," the magazine explained.
The Philippines as of Thursday tallied 25,650 fatalities due to the respiratory disease.
Aside from the Philippines, the countries that landed at the bottom of the list are North Macedonia, Yemen, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Guatemala, and Colombia.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, Finland, Mongolia, Norway, Denmark, Canada, and New Zealand were in the top 10 safest countries list.
PALACE SAYS RANKING IS JUST 'ONE VIEW OUT OF MANY'
"The opinion of Global Finance is but one among many varied points of view," said Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque.
He said that while the Philippines is prone to natural hazards due to its and climate change, "our disaster management system continues to improve."
"The Filipino people are also growing more resilient and adaptive," he said in a statement.
As for the "war and peace" factor in the Global Finance ranking, Roque said, "We are not at war, and since the start of the strict implementation of community quarantine in March 2020, there was a significant decline in crimes per the Philippine National Police."
On COVID-19, he noted that around 86 percent of Filipinos approve of the government's pandemic management, based on a Pulse Asia December 2020 survey.
"In addition, we are on track in achieving our target of population protection in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces by November this year as long as the supply of vaccines remains stable," Roque said.
At least 3 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 nationwide. The government's immunization target for this year is 50 to 70 million of the 109 million population.
"Our COVID-19 mortality rate remains one of the lowest at 1.76%, as of July 8, 2021," Roque mentioned.
"We are therefore optimistic that things would be better with more and more people get vaccinated, coupled with our strict implementation of Prevention-Detection-Isolation-Treatment-and Reintegration (PDITR) Strategy," he said.
PNP, DOH DISAGREE
According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), the publication's ranking did not match the country's current crime statistics.
"Hindi tumutugma ang aming crime statistics sa ranking na ito," said PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar.
(This ranking does not match with our crime statistics.)
Based on their data recorded since the beginning of community quarantines last year, PNP said "crime volume declined by half," while "theft and robbery recorded the most significant decline with more than 60 percent reduction."
Eleazar added that some of the metrics used in the ranking were "beyond the control of the government," such as those classified as natural disasters like the Taal Volcano eruption.
Despite disagreeing with the ranking, Eleazar said they were "challenged" to improve their jobs.
"Nevertheless, we will take this latest ranking as a challenge to do more in terms of further improving the peace and order, security in the country."
The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, downplayed the ranking, saying the public should "take this with a grain of salt."
"The other circumstances are uncontrollable like natural disasters. E talagang ganoon. Nandito tayo sa Pilipinas and ang Philippines talaga is prone to natural disasters (It is what it is. We are in the Philippines and we're prone to natural disasters)," Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said, echoing Eleazar's position.