Herald of the failing state

Rodrigo Duterte and Vitaliano Aguirre II

In his message for National Heroes Day this year, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to uphold the rule of law as the best way to express their appreciation for the sacrifices of the heroes who fought for the country’s independence.

“Let us honor them by upholding the rule of law, protecting our nation and fostering goodwill among ourselves,” his message read. Mr. Duterte also pledged to “harness the same virtues as we continue to fight against lawlessness, criminality and poverty that hinder us from achieving our full potential.”

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THE 2009 Ampatuan town or Maguindanao Massacre provoked, among other reactions, a warning that the Philippine state is on the verge of failure, or might have already failed.

The Failed States Index of a US-based organization called the Fund for Peace was suddenly on many people’s lips as well as in some columns and blogs. The Index is an annual monitor of some 178 countries, which it ranks according to how high the threat of state failure is: red for “alert,” meaning the states in the category have already failed; orange for “warning,” meaning the states so labeled display some of the indicators of state failure and could fail unless it takes appropriate steps; pale orange for states under “moderate” threat of failure; and green for states that are “sustainable.”

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