Comelec threatens suit vs SWS, Pulse Asia et al.

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Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. has threatened to file criminal charges against Social Weather Stations (SWS), Pulse Asia and other survey firms unless they submit their list of subscribers to the Comelec.

Brillantes on Saturday reminded the survey firms about the election body’s order requiring them to submit their list of subscribers.

He said the survey firms had yet to comply with the Comelec resolution that ordered them to identify the “commissioners, payors and subscribers” of the preelection surveys they conducted since Feb. 12.

“Our requirement is for survey companies to report to us the names of their subscribers. They have yet to comply with that,” Brillantes said in an interview.

He said the names submitted to the Comelec would not be made public but were meant only for the poll body to review.

The SWS had said it would challenge the order in the Supreme Court.

Brillantes, however, said the Comelec did not get any order from the Supreme Court stopping the implementation of the resolution.

“If they did not get (a temporary restraining order), they should comply. We just have to remind them,” Brillantes said.

He said survey companies that continued to defy the Comelec could be charged with committing an election offense.

“There would be criminal liability.  Maybe they just forgot,” Brillantes said.

The Comelec issued the resolution after Pulse Asia and SWS, in a public hearing on April 16, explained how their surveys were financed but refused to identify the subscribers.

Brillantes had insisted the Comelec should have oversight over preelection surveys because they affect public opinion in the run up to the elections.

During the Comelec hearing, the SWS insisted that the law did not require survey firms to disclose their survey subscribers.

“The law does not require us to disclose the subscribers precisely because it is our position that they did not pay for the surveys,” said SWS lawyer Albert Bacungan.

“It is the position of SWS that when we speak of a subscriber like a subscriber in a newspaper, the subscriber is not responsible for the news report in that newspaper. Now, a survey subscriber is likewise not accountable to the public for survey results released on the basis of noncommissioned questionnaire items. That is our position,” he said.

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