Comelec to survey firms: Disclose subscribers

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday ordered survey companies to reveal their subscribers to determine if some election regulations are being violated.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the poll body is set to come out with a resolution requiring all firms conducting pre-elections surveys to identify their subscribers.

The Comelec will come out with the resolution following the petition of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) requesting the poll body to require survey firms to identify those who commission pre-election surveys.

Brillantes said the resolution covers all survey companies and not just the leading firms such as Pulse Asia and the Social Weather Station (SWS).

Brillantes clarified the report required from the survey firms will be submitted solely before Comelec and will not be made public.

An existing Comelec Resolution 9615 provides that during the election period, any person or organization may conduct an election survey but that it should include all pertinent information like the name of the person, candidate, party, or organization that commissioned or paid for the survey, among other details.

Brillantes said the survey firms would have to comply within five days after the issuance of the resolution.

SWS previously refused to disclose their subscribers, saying they are not the same as the sponsor or the one who commissioned the survey.

Brillantes warned those who would not comply with the directive would face sanctions.

“If they don’t divulge, we will apply the provision of Republic Act No. 9006 which provides jail term,” Brillantes said, referring to the Fair Elections Act.

UNA earlier urged the Comelec to come out with a rule requiring those conducting pre-election surveys to reveal who commissioned them.

UNA claimed the polling firms have been refusing to reveal the financiers of their surveys, on the possibility that their subscribers could also be politicians or candidates for the elections.

UNA, however, noted most of its candidates are faring well in the surveys.

Among them is senatorial candidate Nancy Binay, daughter of UNA founding leader Vice President Jejomar Binay.

She placed third in the recent survey conducted by the SWS, which she said, could be “scary.”

“I am happy, but at the same time scared because in UNA, once you landed on top in poll surveys you are subjected to attacks. Since I am the one leading among UNA candidates, I will now be the subject of attacks,” she said.

Binay said the most hurting attacks that she received since she decided to run for senator was when her detractors started including her children in the black propaganda.

“My call to my detractors is to spare my children and my family from the black propaganda against me. Just focus on me because I am the candidate,” Binay said.

“Although I am already used to attacks and it is already 18 days left for the campaign. I am asking my detractors not to include my family, especially my children,” she added.

Binay said the ratings of her other UNA senatorial candidates are also improving in the surveys compared to the candidates of the administration Liberal Party (LP).

Administration candidate Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, for his part, expressed his concern about what he said was an apparent orchestrated attack being waged against him in his bailiwick in Mindanao.

Pimentel, however, admitted he could not explain the exact nature of the attack.

Speaking on Monday before several local officials in his hometown of Cagayan de Oro who are supporting his candidacy, Pimentel sounded the alarm about the attack against him in Mindanao.

“There must be a well-orchestrated attack against me in Mindanao because I’m suffering double-digit losses in four regions in Mindanao: 10, 11, ARMM and Caraga,” he said.

“Surprising, but we cannot detect anything. If you can detect something, relay to us so the national headquarters can do some remedial action. We cannot detect anything so we cannot explain it,” he added.

Pimentel fell in the latest SWS surveys where he saw a drop in voters’ preference from a high of 48 percent in January and February, it went down to 43 percent in April.

In one of the regional surveys, Pimentel was registering double-digit losses in terms of voters’ preferences.

Pimentel said that he could not find any explanation so far about the slide but his suspicion was that there are people working to bring him down.

“I am having this investigated, what is happening because I can’t recall committing any blunder. The only explanation I can give, from the political point of view, is that there must be a sustained and well-organized negative campaign conducted here in Mindanao, maybe. So we are investigating this,” he said.

Among the focus of Pimentel’s investigation is the reports coming out of the radio stations in Bukidnon, the hometown and bailiwick of his nemesis, former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, now senatorial candidate of UNA.

He explained the radio reports are the ones that are hard to monitor, which is why he would look into this aspect.

Pimentel filed an electoral protest against Zubiri after the 2007 elections and was declared the winner in 2011.

He clarified that he is not accusing Zubiri’s camp of anything, especially since his rival is not gaining from his losses.

However, if the results of the investigation confirm the Bukidnon radio stations are involved, Pimentel argued that “he (Zubiri) is the most logical suspect.”

“But I am not worried about it because in the national (surveys) I am still recording gains. But we went to the extent of the regional (surveys) and it looks like in Mindanao, being my bailiwick, is where they are trying to attack me,” he said. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Marvin Sy

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