No real progress in Philippines if oligarchies not dismantled, says think tank

No real progress in Philippines if oligarchies not dismantled, says think tank
Skyline over poverty line: The towering buildings are at the heart of Makati City, while the shanties are along an estero in Pasay City.

The Philippines remains a fragile democracy despite the Aquino administration's gains that have not been enough to make up for "nearly a decade of regression" during the previous administration.

A new report by Bertelsmann Foundation, a German think tank, said true progress in the Philippines would be out of reach unless the improbable was achieved: Dismantling of oligarchies that control both politics and business.

"Since the election of Benigno Aquino III as president in May 2010, the overall development of democracy in the Philippines has regained momentum," the group's 2014 Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) 2014 report read.

"However, the corruption and patronage under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration left behind a difficult legacy for the current president," it said.

Bertelsmann said the dominance of entrenched family clans in politics and the economy should be reduced in order to make politics and economics more transparent and competitive. The antidynasty law, which has been debated in Congress since 1987, must be passed, it said.

This, however, would be "highly unrealistic" since President Aquino himself and about 80 per cent of lawmakers come from these dynasties.

The group's BTI report, published every two years, analyzes and evaluates the quality of democracy, market economy and political management in 129 developing and transition countries. It measures successes and setbacks on the path toward democracy based on the rule of law and a socially responsible market economy.

The Philippines ranked 36th overall in the 2014 rankings, improving from 48th in 2012. In terms of political and economic transformation, the country ranked 40th and 44th, respectively.

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