De Lima: Public should know who paid for surveys
MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Justice (DOJ) has lent its support to a House bill requiring the disclosure of the source of funding and financing of surveys.
In a letter dated July 1 and released to the media last week, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told Undersecretary Bernardino Sayo of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office that the public deserved such disclosure, especially if the subject matter of the survey involved public interest and the results were disseminated to the public.
“This department interposes no objection to the proposed legislation, which is in line with the government’s thrust for full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest, and which we believe should be implemented in equal measure relative to the conduct of private entities when the subject matter involves public interest, one of which is the conduct of surveys for the purpose of public dissemination,” De Lima said.
The measure, House Bill No. 4475, was filed last May by Leyte 2nd district Rep. Sergio Apostol in substitution of a similar bill he filed in October last year. The new bill has been referred to the House committee on rules after being approved by the public information committee.
De Lima said disclosure “would prevent confusion and the general public would be spared from misleading surveys.”
“Revealing the true source of funding and financing of surveys will inform that public of who is behind the same and the intention for such survey. The funding disclosure requirement would give the public a fair and educated judgment as to the veracity and legitimacy of surveys,” she said, quoting Apostol’s explanation of the bill.
However, the DOJ chief said she had reservations about the inclusion of a section in the bill that penalized local or national election surveys conducted in violation of the would-be law. The violation, as contemplated by the bill, will be treated as an election offense and shall be prosecuted by the Commission on Elections.
De Lima, a former election lawyer, said the inclusion of the section would amend the Omnibus Election Code by creating another type of an election offense. She added that in accordance with Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution, there should only be one subject matter of a bill as stated in its the title.
“[W]e cannot find that [the section] is germane to and connected with the disclosure of the source of funding of a survey. Also, the title of the bill itself gives no inkling or notice whatsoever to the public regarding the creation of another kind of election office,” she said.