Palace to UP experts: Stop publicizing pandemic response suggestions

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is urging experts from the University of the Philippines to stop publicizing suggestions on the pandemic response and just “privately” communicate it to the government.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the remarks following the latest recommendation of the Octa Research team that stricter lockdowns be observed in some areas.

“I really appreciate the efforts of Octa in helping us monitor COVID-19 cases. But I already requested them to desist from making recommendations on classification because this is really the work of experts,” Roque said.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, he remarked that the Octa Research team is working with “one or two epidemiologists” in tracking the pandemic curve, while the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) was consulting more experts.

“I wish they would refrain from making these recommendations publicly,” Roque said.

The Palace official issued the statement after the Octa Research team urged the government to consider reimposing stricter community quarantine classifications or localized lockdowns in Bauan, Batangas; Calbayog, Western Samar; and General Trias, Cavite.

The researchers cited the increasing daily attack rate of the new coronavirus in the three areas in the past two weeks.

They also noted that hot spots with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks were Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Batangas, Laguna, Bulacan, Negros Occidental, and Iloilo.

“My suggestion is, if Octa Research does not mind, if possible let’s do the recommendations privately through the IATF. We will forward it to the regional IATF if needed,” Roque said.