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Filipinos worse off under Aquino

The Philippines has become worse off under President Benigno Aquino 3rd, according to the analysis of a respected London-based research organization, the Legatum Institute, a unit of one of the world’s biggest investment conglomerae.

In its 2012 “Prosperity Index,” the Legatum Institute put the Philippines in the 67th slot in its 144-nation list, in which rank 1 would be the most prosperous (Norway). The Philippines’ rank is the lowest in Southeast Asia, below Indonesia at 63 and Vietnam at 53.

From 2009 when it was in the 61st slot, the Philippines’ ranking has continuously slipped under Aquino’s watch to 66 in 2011 and 67 in 2012. Indonesia overtook the Philippines only this year, improving its “prosperity index” from 70 to 63. The index reflects not just a nation’s wealth but also the main factors reflecting the well-being, quality of life and life-satisfaction of its citizens.

According to the rankings, Filipinos would be worse off in these categories now than people in such countries as Mongolia, Romania, Uzbekistan and even in Greece, which has plunged into a near economic collapse so bad that suicide rates in Athens have alarmingly risen.

This prosperity index, since its start in 2008, have put the Scandinavian countries, Australia, New Zealand and Canada in its top 10 “prosperous countries.” This has bolstered its accuracy, as these findings are consistent with those of more recent quality-of-life indices such as Columbia University Earth Institute’s Happiness Index and the United Nations’ Human Development Index.

While the number of countries included in its list have increased, it did not affect the rankings of the upper- and middle-ranked nations (where the Philippines is) because these new entrants are very low-ranked countries such as Haiti, Chad, and Afghanistan.

While not too well known, the institute’s Prosperity Index is a highly respected metric for determining the well-being and quality of life of a nation’s people. It incorporates not just economic or social data but such important aspects of a citizen’s condition in a particular county such as the quality of his government, access to education and health facilities, his personal safety, even his report how satisfied he is with his life.

The prosperity index is based on 89 different variables, with its source data including Gallup World Polls, World Development Indicators, GDP, UN Human Development Report, World Bank, OECD, World Values Survey. Legatum’s “prosperity index” is respected by academicians because of its rigorous (and transparent_ econometric analysis undertaken by renowned scholars).

“The index offers a unique insight into how prosperity is forming and changing across the world,” according to the institute’s report available at its website. “The Prosperity Index is distinctive in that it is the only global measurement of prosperity based on both wealth and wellbeing.”

It explained: “Traditionally, a nation’s prosperity has been measured by macroeconomic indicators such as a country’s income, represented either by Gross Domestic Product or by average income per person (GDP per capita).” “However, most people would agree that prosperity is more than just the accumulation of material wealth, it is also the joy of everyday life and the prospect of being able to build a better life in the future.”

The analysis generates its overall index and rankings by determining a country’s situation in terms of eight sub-indices, equally weighed, which determine the level of well-being of a people in a particular country.

The Philippines improved its rankings from 2010 in only two of the eight sub-indices that make up the prosperity index.

Reflecting our free, if rambunctious press as well as the near-anarchy of our version of our democracy, our ranking on “Personal Freedom” freedom rose, though only slightly, from 56 in 2010 to 55 last year. The sub-index on the economy likewise improved, from 52 in 2010 to 47 last year. The 2012 index was a decline though from the 2011 ranking of 43.

Our rankings worsened though in six other sub-indices (see table) including he encouragement or non-encouragement of entrepreneurship, access to education, health of citizens, and strength of social networks (“social capital”).

Bolstering widely held perceptions over the country’s worsening crime rate, the Philippines slipped steeply, from 86 in 2010 to 112 in 2012, in the category “Personal Safety of Citizens and National Security of the Nation”.

Contradicting this administration’s continued boasting over its “daang matuwid” governance, the Philippines’ ranking in this category worsened from 55 in 2012 to 63 last year.

In its special section on Asia, the Legatum Institute even left out the Philippines as a rising country in the region:

“While the highly developed and globally competitive Asian Tigers continue to excel, it is also worth considering the ‘Tiger Cubs’—the rising Asian countries nipping at the heels of the regional leaders. In the Prosperity Index we observe these to be Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.”

“One metric that can shed light on why these Asian nations are rising is the level of FDI flowing into each country. This is because FDI, when managed appropriately, can be a source of economic growth. Among the ‘Tiger Cubs’, Thailand and Indonesia are the biggest recipients of FDI. In terms of FDI as a share of GDP, however, Vietnam outperforms the other ‘Tiger Cubs’ as FDI net inflows constitute almost 8% of its GDP.” In the accompanying graph, the Philippines was shown as having the smallest FDI flows.

As in the 2012 prosperity index, other assessments by international organizations aren’t just supporting Mr. Aquino’s fanfaronades on his governance, which mainstream media has been blindly repeating. Among such assessments are the World Bank’s ranking of nations on the basis of ease of doing business in which the Philippines’ rank slid from 134th in 2011 to 136th in 2012. In the recently-released index on transparency in government spending,” the country’s grade fell from 55% in 2010 to 48% in 2012. Even Aquino’s biggest boast recently, of a 7.1 percent year-on-year growth rate in the third quarter last year, has been questioned by the World Bank which has estimated that the actual figure would likely be 5.7 percent.

Aquino’s rosy picture of the country during his watch is in fact being torn apart by both objective and subjective data:

• Some 900,000 jobs WERE lost in the six months to October 2012, according to National Statistics Office data. This is one of highest recorded loss of jobs in one month, more than the previous record of 168,000 jobs lost in the fourth quarter of 2008, when the world moved into recession, hitting swiftly our export industries.

• That has been reflected subjectively in the Social Weather Survey’s report that 10.9 million families considered themselves poor in its December survey, 1.4 million more than the 9.5 million who said they were destitute in August.