PH contests index showing it's 2nd least peaceful nation in region

MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is contesting the results of the newly-released Global Peace Index, which showed the country as the 2nd least peaceful country in the Asia Pacific. 

The country is second only to North Korea in the index, which cited the 5-month-long siege of Marawi last year and the government's bloody anti-drug campaign.

"I cannot believe that," Lorenzana told reporters on June 7 on the sidelines of a conference on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

"It is not fair. But I'd like to look at the study again," said Lorenzana.

Defending Duterte's anti-drug campaign

The defense secretary defended President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign, which is implemented by the police.

"A lot of people can go around very peacefully. I think they are using some parameter that are not present in the Philippines. Just because there is war on drugs it is the least peaceful? In fact a lot of people are saying that their lives are more peaceful now because of the war on drugs," Lorenzana said. 

The military has acknowledged that the threat of armed groups linked with the Islamic State (ISIS) remains, but Lorenzana argued there is no "actual fighting." (READ: War vs pro-ISIS PH groups rages on a year after Marawi siege)

"The threat and actual fighting are two different things. The threat of ISIS is only there because some remnants of the Maute Group are still there and apparently they are, according to rumors, recruiting. But we cannot confirm that they are recruiting," Lorenzana said. 

'We do not like it'

"Well, we do not like it. But that is their study.... Next only to North Korea as least peaceful? No. If you ask the North Koreans, they will say that they are also peaceful dahil wala namang patayan dun eh, di ba? (because there are no killings there, right?)," Lorenzana said.

"I don't think the study is very conclusive. The method is at most faulty," he said. 

Lorenzana also cited better relations with China, which the index noted. 

"For the past two years, the tension in the South China Sea has gone down a lot and there is peace there. Everybody can go and fish. There is an agreement that there will be no more occupation of new features between all the claimants. I think we have made great stride in the South China Sea," Lorenzana said. 

The Philippines recently filed a diplomatic protest against China over the actions of a Chinese chopper that allegedly harassed a Philippine rubber boat deployed to resupply a military outpost in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

Lorenzana said it was an isolated incident. –