Image Source: joeam.com
Image Source: joeam.com

CHICAGO – Although the Philippines continues to “enjoy moderate but improving levels of economic freedom, rule of law continues to be a major concern as ownership structures remain from the time of President Ferdinand Marcos.”

Washington, D.C.’s “The Heritage Foundation,” which is said to be the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, said, “Philippine leaders must look to strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption if they want to sustain their score improvements.”

In a statement released last Jan. 13, The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, the most widely circulated daily U.S. newspaper (with 2 million circulation), cited the “moderate, but improving, levels of economic freedom” of the Philippines as shown by the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom.

The economic freedom score of the Philippines is 60.1, making its economy the 89th freest in the 2014 Index. Its rank is unchanged from last year. The Philippines is ranked No. 16 in the list of 43 countries in the Asia and the Pacific Region, and its score is at par with the regional and world averages.

In the 20-year history of the Index of Economic Freedom, the Philippines’ economic freedom score advanced by 5.1 points. Improvements in seven of the 10 economic freedoms, including significant gains in trade freedom, investment freedom, and freedom from corruption, have been partially offset by a deterioration in property rights.

Ambassador Terry Miller, co-author of the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom and director of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics, said, “The Philippines has shown consistent score improvement in the Index for a number of years, showing a dedication to reform amongst the country’s leadership.

“Rule of law continues to be a major concern, as ownership structures remain from the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. Philippine leaders must look to strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption if they want to sustain their score improvements.”

The Index of Economic Freedom rates 186 countries in 10 categories of economic performance. These are rule of law, regulatory efficiency, limited government and open markets. The Index promotes individual empowerment, free and open competition, government transparency and equal opportunity for all.

Hong Kong and Singapore finished 1st and 2nd in the rankings for the 20th straight year.  The world average score of 60.3 — seven-tenths of a point above the 2013 average — is the highest average in the two-decade history of the Index. Forty-three countries, including Singapore and Sweden, achieved their highest scores yet in the 2014 Index. Among the 178 countries ranked, scores improved for 114 countries and declined for 59. Four recorded no score change.

The 2014 Index was edited by Ambassador Miller, director of Heritage’s Center for International Trade and Economics; Anthony B. Kim, senior policy analyst in the Center for International Trade and Economics; and Kim Holmes, Ph.D., Heritage’s Distinguished Fellow.

Copies of the Index (490 pages, $24.95) may be ordered online at www.heritage.org/index or by calling 1-800-975-8625. The full text, including charts and graphs, is available online.

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A native of Sorsogon, Philippines, he and his family now live in Chicago. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.

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