A SURVEY of global freedom released a couple of days ago has noted a decline in the state of freedom in the Philippines, resulting in a downgrade from “Free” to “Partly Free” status for the country, even as substantial improvement has been observed worldwide in 2005.

Twenty-seven countries and one territory registered gains and only nine countries showed setbacks, according to the global survey, “Freedom in the World,” conducted annually by Freedom House. Such a situation suggests that the year 2005 has been “one of the most successful for freedom” since Freedom House began measuring world freedom in 1972 by monitoring the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in 192 nations and in 14 major related and disputed territories. The country ratings reflect global events from December 1, 2004 through November 30, 2005.

With regard to the Philippines, the Freedom House report had this to say:

Of the four countries that registered an outright decline in status, the most significant was the Philippines. The decision to downgrade this country from Free to Partly Free was based on credible allegations of massive electoral fraud, corruption, and the government’s intimidation of elements in the political opposition.

The country received a rating of 3 both for political rights and civil liberties, with a rating of 1 being the most free and a rating of 7 the least free. Countries with the same rating as the Philippines include Ukraine and Indonesia, both of which improved from “Partly Free” to “Free”; and Afghanistan, which moved to “Partly Free” from “Not Free.”

As expected, Malacañang has rejected the Philippines’s Freedom House rating, with Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye claiming that “those who say that there is no freedom in the Philippines are out of touch with reality.”

Other major findings of the survey include the following:

  • The number of electoral democracies increased by three, from 119 to 122, representing 64 percent of the world’s countries — the highest number in the survey’s 33-year history.
  • The period since September 11, 2001, has witnessed steady progress in majority Muslim countries in regions beyond the Middle East that represents a powerful argument against the proposition that Islam is incompatible with democracy or is an impediment to the spread of freedom. Proof of this is the striking improvement in the level of freedom in majority Muslim countries over the past ten years. In 1995, only one majority Muslim country was “Free,” 13 were “Partly Free,” and 32, or 70 percent, were “Not Free.” For 2005, the figures are three “Free” countries, 20 “Partly Free,” and 23 “Not Free.”

Of 45 states that got “Not Free” ratings, eight were considered “worst of the worst” — Cuba and North Korea, both one-party Marxist-Leninist regimes; Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Central Asian countries ruled by dictators with roots in the Soviet period; Libya and Syria, Arab countries under the sway of secular dictatorships; Sudan, whose leadership has elements both of radical Islamism and of the traditional military junta; and Burma, a tightly controlled military dictatorship.

To view the survey results in charts and graphs, click here.

23 Responses to State of freedom declined in the Philippines in 2005 — Freedom House



December 21st, 2005 at 3:40 pm

That’s another one of our accomplishments. Bravo GMA!!



December 21st, 2005 at 4:47 pm

Well done, Gloria. Are you happy now?



December 21st, 2005 at 7:16 pm

Tsk tsk. Kasalanan na naman ng isa diyan, but we are so shortsighted as to fail to see how we imprison ourselves with our own lack of substance and shallowness.

Check out the following article which describes what I think about our perverse view of what “freedom” is:


It would be fair to hazard a guess that this whole “love of freedom” sloganeering associated with the practice of “democracy” is the work of a political machine averse to accountability. The point of democracy is not freedom as many of us were foolishly led to believe. The point of democracy is the practice of a system that enables us to hold our leaders to account. One can therefore understand why this, by now, puzzling obssession with “freedom” is prevalent today. Who else but our politicians are the biggest trumpeters of the “freedom” we enjoy under “democracy”?

Happy reading! 😀



December 21st, 2005 at 8:59 pm

for one, i don’t feel and agree to this ‘partly free’ assessment at all.

i could write in the blogs and feel free to write anything i want including bashing the president and the government. i have access to media and free to read and listen to practically everything i want to.

anybody can still march the street except to those places where they are restricted (and for which they insist of going to to emphasize the restriction which they know on the first place). elections can be contested, if you have the means (legarda’s recount against noli). officials are impeached (only, if you have the political clout, constitutional still).

the only thing that i am not free in this country are to those things that i don’t have the means, and yet i’m not restricted to overcome it anytime from present to the future!


Duck Vader

December 21st, 2005 at 10:23 pm

Your piece is inaccurate, even wrong, Benigno.

As Fareed Zakaria has written:

“FROM THE TIME of Herodotus democracy has meant, first and foremost, the rule of the people. This view of democracy as a process of selecting governments, articulated by scholars ranging from Alexis de Tocqueville to Joseph Schumpeter to Robert Dahl, is now widely used by social scientists. In The Third Wave, Samuel P. Huntington explains why:

Elections, open, free and fair, are the essence of democracy, the inescapable sine qua non. Governments produced by elections may be inefficient, corrupt, shortsighted, irresponsible, dominated by special interests, and incapable of adopting policies demanded by the public good. These qualities make such governments undesirable but they do not make them undemocratic. Democracy is one public virtue, not the only one, and the relation of democracy to other public virtues and vices can only be understood if democracy is clearly distinguished from the other characteristics of political systems.”

It is here: http://www.fareedzakaria.com/articles/other/democracy.html. The reason I quote him is that I agree with him and don’t want to claim his ideas as my own.

You are making your own definition, not based on the history of the term or how it is understood and used to differentiate from other political systems.


lokalokang matino

December 21st, 2005 at 11:39 pm

Nagwawala si Bunye, ganyan talaga kasakit pagnatapakan ang kalyo!!! “OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY” daw ang FREEDOM HOUSE. Ang advise ko lang kay Bunye, eh humarap sya sa salamin at makikita nya doon kung sino ang “OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY!!! Bunye, the Freedom House people are credible, you are not. The Freedom House people will not sell their souls to A CHEAT,LIAR, THEFT,DECEIT, ARROGANT FAKE PRESIDENT, you did!!! If Bunye does not know yet, the effects of CPR and EO464 are absolutely far from being free !!!



December 22nd, 2005 at 8:07 am

Mr Duck Vader, I think the following passage from your quote of Huntington, is the essence you missed in the point you tried to make:

“Democracy is one public virtue, not the only one, and the relation of democracy to other public virtues and vices can only be understood if democracy is clearly distinguished from the other characteristics of political systems”

The above precisely illustrates my point.

Democracy IS but one of many factors that determine the health of a society. Yet if you see the theme of most discussions here, it seems people are pinning the entire hope of the Philippines on whether or not demcoracy — as we were tuaght to consider it — will be realised in our system of governance.

We forget that there are other virtues that need to be developed before democracy can fly in the Philippines — cultures of accountability, responsibility, civic duty, and systemic thinking need to be in place in order that robust democratic institutions can be built.



December 22nd, 2005 at 8:57 am

freedom house stated: “The Freedom in the World survey provides an annual evaluation of the state of global freedom as experienced by individuals. Freedom is the opportunity to act spontaneously in a variety of fields outside the control of the government and other centers of potential domination. Freedom House measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. Political rights (PR) enable people to participate freely in the political process, including through the right to vote, compete for public office, and elect representatives who have a decisive impact on public policies and are accountable to the electorate. Civil liberties (CL) allow for the freedoms of expression and belief, associational and organizational rights, rule of law, and personal autonomy without interference from the state.”

this is how COUNTRY STATUS is obtained:
Combined Average of the PR and CL Ratings
1 to 2.5 Free
3 to 5 Partly Free
5.5 to 7 Not Free

during the ten-year period (1995-2004) the survey was conducted, only in 1995 was the Philippines categorized as “partly free” with political rights rated at 2 and civil liberties rated at 4. in the rest of the annual surveys, we were rated as having 2 (political rights), 3 (civil liberties), and categorized as “F” (Free). http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2005/Paraguay-SouthKorea.pdf

it’s a good thing freedom house still designates the Philippines as an “electoral democracy” despite perceptions of some that a dominant party state is in effect. however, a status of “PF” for this year is certainly bad news. i didn’t get to see the report in the 1995 survey…why the “partly free” status then? it was during fvr’s watch…

“Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, the 2006 yearbook,” which includes lengthy analyses of each country and territory, will only be available in the summer of 2006 but still i invite everyone (bunye included) to read the 2005 version’s methodology here http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2005/methodology.htm .


Duck Vader

December 22nd, 2005 at 11:58 am

We forget that there are other virtues that need to be developed before democracy can fly in the Philippines — cultures of accountability, responsibility, civic duty, and systemic thinking need to be in place in order that robust democratic institutions can be built. — Benigno


Benigno, it is I think you who are missing the point. My point of contention is not about the health of a society, but about THE essential characteristic of a democracy, which is free elections. You say it is not elections. I say it is. The other things you mention are maybe the other public virtues of a healthy, well-functioning society, and they are all desirable and worth pursuing, but they are not what defines what a democracy is.

A democracy is simply one where there are free elections where people get to select their government, period. You may have badly-functioning democracies, as the Philippines is probably the case, but as long as there are open, free and fair elections, it is a democracy.

Can it be a bad democracy? yes, especially if some of the other institutions malfunction, but it is still a democracy. As you may note, there are liberal democracies (with human rights, etc) and as, Zakaria notes, illiberal democracies, where some of the bad things that we see exist. But they are still democracies.

I would rather say that we have in the Philippines an illiberal (slightly or greatly, up to you) democracy, and our goal is to move towards a more liberal democracy. But we are still a democracy as long as we fulfill the essential requirement.

(Maybe it’s a bad analogy. But think of marriage. There are happy marriages and unhappy marriages.)



December 22nd, 2005 at 2:52 pm

during fvr’s time (1995), our civil liberties slid by 1 point.
during gma’s time (2005), our political rights slid by 1 point.



December 22nd, 2005 at 4:29 pm

The negative status change in the annual “Freedom in the World”-report from “free” to “partly free” may be termed a kick in the face for a nation that at times has prided itself to be a beacon of democracy in the region. The government has shown notable concern to please the economic rating institutes and initiated various reforms in the financial sector. Let’s hope it takes the political downgrade just as seriously and pushes for long overdue political reforms.



December 22nd, 2005 at 10:52 pm

the philippines is a demoracy. but is it free or partly free? It depends where you stand. if you belong to the oligarh, the ruling class where they have the freedom to plunder and corrupt the system to the ground then that’s the “free”. and the rest – the “partly free”.



December 23rd, 2005 at 12:05 am

so where do you belong? free or partly free?

let’s put it in laymans, aside from doing illegal things (which is not characteristics of being free), what makes someone partly free?



December 23rd, 2005 at 12:41 am

I’d say i belong to the partly free. because, i can say anything here against the powerfull in the govt. behind the cover of my blog name without fear of repercussion, but would i have the same courage in the open? can i go to sleep knowing that if i wake sick in the middle of the night, would i be free to call 911 to get myself a free medical care? If i get arrested for any reason, would i’d be free to call my lawyer and have my right read to me before thrown to jail or worse beaten? (which I know still going on). i can’t answer yes to these sample questions, but i believe the other part could.



December 23rd, 2005 at 9:31 am

to naykika,

you may not be free from fear but no one’s stopping you to come in the open. you can call 911 anytime but might be billed later. you can’t be arrested without a warrant, unless you are in an act of committing something illegal where a citizen can arrest you. you’ll have miranda rights (right to remain silent and have a lawyer).

you are freer than you think or feel you are.

Happy Holidays!



December 23rd, 2005 at 10:30 am


thanks for the greetings, i needed that. all i might be getting from santa this year is a lump of coal for being so bad. (just kidding). I talked to my two brothers by long distance almost everyday ,and i agree with you that individual freedom back home is never threatened. but it is the direction the nation going that concern most of us. while other countries in our regions are progressing, it seems we are going backward. by the way the campaign here is getting hot hot and nasty, but that what campaign period is for. we still expect the same minority govt. againt thanks and Happy Hlidays to All.

toronto, canada



December 23rd, 2005 at 11:03 am


Others try to judge us for what we do. Unlike the court of law where everything has to be proven beyond doubt, they pass judgment based chiefly on perceptions. Sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s not. It all depends on their biases. And most often than not their biases are exaggerated. I just take it with a grain of salt because I know what the truth is and what is not. Besides, what gives them the right to pass judgment on us.

Have a great Christmas.



December 23rd, 2005 at 11:36 am


neither do i. but rather than rallying against it, because as citizens we know better, the skeptics and the naysayers are quick to draw their punches exploiting however cheap the issue is.

Happy Holidays to all!



December 29th, 2005 at 10:15 am

we pilipino have the freedom on its own league. freedom itself is full of conflict where the individual government can only define to its purpose.
our society is composed of paradoxes, the most apparent being the extreme of wealth and pauper in the nation or the educated and rich politician can lead the people to build civilize government.
how free our elected official can govern the government without the influence of other country leader or interest group. if our politician will stop dancing to the agenda of foreign leader, may be I will stop dreaming.



January 4th, 2006 at 12:20 pm

i will definitely agree with this survey!!!

koj said,
December 23, 2005 @ 9:31 am

to naykika,

you may not be free from fear but no one’s stopping you to come in the open.

zigen answer,

of course no one can stop you to come in the open. but the mere fact that there is an EO464 banning/restricting people from the goverment from telling, saying and coming in the open what they know about a particular incident is harassment enough of their freedom. and if what they say is against the goverment… they will be jailed, court martialed, and cases will be filed against them plus the fact that the justice secretary will accuse you of so many fabricated things! and even hit you on you persoanl life! does this things doesn’t constitute to lesser freedom for filipinos? if they could done this to high ranking officials of this land, the more they could do this to people who are powerless like ordinary citizens.

koj said,

you can call 911 anytime but might be billed later. you can’t be arrested without a warrant, unless you are in an act of committing something illegal where a citizen can arrest you. you’ll have miranda rights (right to remain silent and have a lawyer).

zigen answer,

first, don’t you remember the ortigas RUBOUT? this happened just last Nov.! did you saw the footage? was there any arrest warrant? :) the mere fact that they are just suspects doesn’t mean they are guilty! and shooting someone who is incapacitated and still alive and saying that the person was still a threat!!! duh??! wake up dude! did you see the police planting guns on the supposedly “suspects” ( again, it is just suspects ). the police should serve and protect! doesn’t matter if it is a criminal, suspect, or ordinary people but the police should protect their basic human rights! and the most basic of them all is the right to live!! they took this man’s life who is so powerless! was he served an warrant??? was he in the process of committing a crime??? Is he a threat to the law enforcers??? (which is clearly not because they don’t carry any firearms in their car!!!!) i guess the only right that these supposedly “suspects” got that day was the right to be silent!!!! i do hope you wake up soon…. look at the events unfolding….. and IF THESE DOESN’T CONSTITUTE TO LESSER FREEDOM, then you should wear glasses!

2nd, have you heard of the names Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan??? dba they were court martialed and even striped off their retirement benefits…. for what reasons? for telling the truth? for testifying what they saw, experienced, and heard during the elections? then why do they have to restrict them for saying that…. if what the 2 said was not the truth then why do the goverment feels so threatened and insecure…. again, IF THESE DOESN’T CONSTITUTE TO LESSER FREEDOM…. i don’t know anything more that will!

3rd, did you saw how they arrested Gen. Abat? was there any arrest warrant served?

if we continue to be blind of the truth…. then this country is heading nowhere!



INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » Freedom House reports press freedom decline in RP

April 29th, 2006 at 10:57 pm

[…] (In December, Freedom House already noted a decline in the state of freedom in the Philippines, resulting in a downgrade from “Free” to “Partly Free” status for the country.) […]



January 21st, 2007 at 7:37 am

re: freedom house rating (as Freedom in the World 2007: Year Marked by Global “Freedom Stagnation,” Setbacks for Democracy in Asia was released through the press last jan 17, 2007)…

COUNTRY STATUS is obtained by the average of the Political Rights (PR) and Civil Liberties (CL) Ratings:
1 to 2.5 Free
3 to 5 Partly Free
5.5 to 7 Not Free

our status from 1972 to 2006 was mostly Partly Free (from 1972 to Nov 1986, 1990-1995, and 2005-2006).
we were Free from Nov 1986-Dec 1989 and from 1996-2004.

we enjoyed the lowest average of 2 only during Nov 1986-Nov 1987 (PR=2, CL=2, Status: Free); the rest of the period with Free status the average is at 2.5.
we had a dismal average of 5 in the period 1972 to Nov 1983.

reasons for marcos years’ Partly Free status and initial cory years’ Free status are obvious. initial fvr years’ Partly Free status noted a slump in the PR while in the remaining years a decline in CL was seen.

coming from a straight nine-year Free status (the period in which fvr, erap and gma were involved), the past two years (2005-2006) showed, however, a downtrend in our political rights ratings…reverting us back to the Partly Free category.

from a combined total of PR and CL amounting to 10 in the 1970’s and going steady at 5 in the late 1990’s up to 2004, a major setback happened in the forms of electoral fraud and political killings since then.

this year, May we overcome the setback and become free again…


comparative scores for all countries can be obtained here.


Alecks Pabico

January 22nd, 2007 at 9:26 am

Thanks for the update, Baycas. Will post a lengthier report on this later…

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