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Phl a failing state: 12 signs show so

The Philippines is a failing state. The think tank Foreign Policy Institute ranks the Philippines 59th of countries in alarming situations in 2013. The Philippines has been in the red list since the FPI started grading the countries in 2005. The 2014 rankings are due in June.

In 2013 the Philippines was between Mozambique and Madagascar. It was far better than Somalia, Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan, states that the FPI put in “very high alert” of failure. But it also was far worse than neighbors Indonesia, ranked 76; Thailand, 90; Vietnam, 97; and Malaysia, 116. The Philippines was in the same “very high warning” category as Cambodia, 41; and Laos, 58 (see http://library.fundforpeace.org/library/cfsir1306-failedstatesindex2013-...).

Twelve indicators measure a state’s instability. The Philippines was 51st worst in 2010. The rank came only two weeks after then-President Gloria Arroyo bragged having put the country in “almost First World” status (Gotcha, 26 July 2010). Three years under successor President Noynoy Aquino, the Philippines improved only eight notches. And only because other previously better-off countries had worsened.

Of the 12 “failed/failing state” indicators, six are socioeconomic:

(1) Demographic pressure. Governments are unable or unwilling to protect its people from disease, natural disasters, food scarcity, environmental decay, and pollution. Each year thousands of Filipinos lose lives, livings, and homes from predictable typhoons. About 3.9 million Filipino families, 18.1 percent of total, experienced hunger in the last quarter of 2013. Unregulated mining of nickel, chromite, gold, and magnetite (black sand) ruins forests and waterways, thus lessening food sources and triggering disease and disasters. These are mostly large-scale, disguised as “small” through corruption, in Zambales, Pangasinan, Ilocos, Cagayan, Bicol, Samar, Agusan, and Surigao.

(2) Refugees. Displacements of communities, maintenance of refugee camps, and spread of disease therein strain public services to the point of threatening security. Religious extremists, separatists, and plain bandits displaced barrios in North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga City, Basilan, and Sulu.

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(3) Uneven economic development. Ethnic, religious, and regional disparities arise from uneven governance. The FPI uses as main measure the incomes of the highest and lowest 10 percent of societies. In the Philippines the poorest provinces are those in Muslim Mindanao and the tribal Cordilleras.

(4) Group grievance. Tension and violence between groups heighten in weak, negligent states. Features: discrimination; powerlessness; ethnic, religious, communal, and sectarian violence. A recent UN study on the Philippines showed violence sparks due to social inequalities and economic deprivation between adjoining Christian and Muslim communities.

(5) Human flight. When there is little opportunity, people migrate, leaving a vacuum of human capital. The educated and the well off leave when conflicts erupt. About 125 Filipinos depart per hour for overseas employment, in a brain drain of ten million professionals and skilled workers. Entire families — running to about six million of the thinking class — have migrated to America, Australia, and Europe.

(6) Poverty and economic decline. These worsen in states where people are unable to provide for themselves, thus sparking friction between the haves and the have-nots. Measures: economic deficit, government debt, joblessness, youth employment, inflation and purchasing power, GDP growth, and per capita income. The Philippine poverty rate has remained at 26 percent for decades. This is despite yearly GDP growth of six to seven percent that benefits only the rich. Unemployment is at ten percent, underemployment at 24. Only a fraction of the one million who graduate from college finds ready jobs.

There are also six political and military indicators of state failure:

(7) State legitimacy. Government corruption begets ineptitude. Here, the FPI measures political participation, electoral processes, level of democracy, illicit economy, drug trade, protest demonstrations, and power struggles. Filipinos have no freedom of information; the poor routinely sell their votes, tax evasion and smuggling persist. Only a hundred families have ruled the provinces since the late 1800s.

(8) Public services. This includes education and literacy, health, water and sanitation, police and criminality, roads and infrastructures, telephony and Internet access, and energy reliability. In the Philippines all those are major issues of inadequacy and expensiveness.

(9) Human rights and rule of law. This includes press freedom, human trafficking, political prisoners, and restitution against torture. These too are major concerns in the Philippines.

(10) Security apparatus. This includes internal conflict, firearms proliferation, military coups, rebel activities, and bombings. There are over a million loose firearms in the Philippines, and terrorist bombings and extortions abound.

(11) Factionalized elites. This includes flawed elections and political competitions, defectors, and power struggles. Philippine elections are limited to old political families.

(12) External intervention. This includes foreign military actions, foreign assistance and sanctions, and credit ratings. The Philippine military is unable to repel Chinese invasions of western shoals. Citizens rely on the United States for rescue and reinforcement that never come.

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