The Philippines received very poor to poor marks in the World Justice Project’s “Rule of Law Index”. The Index, according to the report, is “a new quantitative assessment tool designed to offer a comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice”.
According to the report, the Philippines scored very poorly and placed last or seventh out of seven Southeast Asian countries surveyed in the areas of law and security (.57), fundamental rights (.50), and effective criminal justice (.53). It was sixth, or second to the last in the region in the areas of Limited Government Power (.57), Absence of Corruption (.45), Clear, Publicized and Stable laws (.43), Regulatory Enforcement (.52) and Access to Civil Justice (.48). The Philippines ranked fifth in only one category: Open Government (.38).
In its Executive Summary, the World Justice Project defined the rule of law as rules-based system where four universal principles are upheld: The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the laws; The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including security of persons and property; The process by which laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient; and Access to Justice is provided by competent, independent and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives and judicial officers who are of sufficient numbers, have adequate resources, and reflect the make-up of the community they serve.
In its “Regional Highlight”, the report observed that in East Asia and Pacific “Wealthier countries such as Japan , Australia , Singapore and South Korea score high in most dimensions. In contrast, Indonesia , the Philippines and Thailand generally rank significantly lower than the wealthier countries in the region”. Relative to the world, the report concluded: “The Philippines falls within the bottom half of the rankings, even when compared to similarly situated countries, particularly in the areas of stable laws, access to justice and corruption.
The report also reported that as experienced by the people, 87% of 1000 respondents from Manila, Cebu and Davao said that they have not experienced a burglary within the last three years. Out of the 13% that responded that they have in fact experienced burglary, 51% reported the crime to the police, while 49% did not. On mechanisms to enforce a contract or to recover a debt, only 5% of the respondents went to court and expected the process to last 1 to 3 years, while 27% of the respondents resorted to direct renegotiation and 23% took not action. These figures can be read as indicative of a lack of trust in the Philippians judicial system by the individuals who took part in the survey.
The study defined government powers as “the means by which the powers of the government are limited and by which they are held accountable under the law”. In its study on corruption, the report considered three forms of corruption: bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misappropriation of entrusted public resources.
In measuring the rule of law, the report first developed the conceptual framework summarized in the Index’s ten factors in consultation with academics, practitioners and community leaders around the world. A questionnaire was then developed based on the conceptual framework and administered by experts and reputable polling entities. A team then collected and mapped the data into 49 sub-factors. A final ranking was made using a five step process. The data was then subjected to several tests to identify possible biases and errors. The findings were then subjected to a sensitivity analysis by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
The report indicated the following individuals as Honorary Chairs of the project: Madelaine Albright, James Baker III, Stephen Breyer, Jimmy Carter, Warren Christopher, Hilario Davide Jr, William Gates Sr, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’ Connor, Desmund Tutu, Paul A. Volker, among others.