NEWS2 August 2013

Filipino survey firms must reveal some subscribers rules Supreme Court

Asia Pacific Legal

Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) can order Filipino survey firms to name some of their subscribers, the Supreme Court in Manila ruled this week.

Only regular subscribers of survey firms are protected by a temporary restraining order (TRO) against a Comelec resolution that was issued in the weeks leading to the midterm polls last May.

The restraining order does not stop Comelec from ordering survey firms to name those who commissioned pre-election surveys between 12 February and 23 April 2013 nor does not cover those who paid more than the usual regular subscribers to access pre-election survey results.

In April, Comelec ordered all survey companies to name those financing election-related surveys or face up to six years in jail if charged with an election offence.

In a petition filed on 26 July, Pulse Asia and Social Weather Systems said the Comelec must be stopped from prosecuting them for a crime that “never existed before” and forcing them to disclose confidential information in violation of their contracts with subscribers.

The Supreme Court said that it issues the TRO “with respect to the submission of the names of regular subscribers but not to the submission of ( 1 ) the names of specific subscribers for the limited period of Feb. 12, 2013 to April 23, 2013 who have paid a substantial amount of money for access to survey results and privileged survey data; and ( 2 ) the names of all commissioners and payers of surveys within the same period”.