5 solons want OCTA Research capabilities, background probed
MANILA, Philippines — At least five lawmakers in the House of Representatives are pushing for the conduct of an inquiry in aid of legislation into the capabilities and background of the OCTA Research group which has been providing its analysis of the country’s COVID-19 situation.
According to House Resolution No. 2075 filed on Wednesday, the solons urged the committee on good government to check on the “qualifications, research methodologies, partnerships, and composition” of the OCTA Research group.
The resolution was filed by: Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera (Bagong Henerasyon Partylist), Deputy Speaker Kristine Singson-Meehan (Ilocos Sur, 2nd District), Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA Partylist), Deputy Minority Leader Stella Luz Quimbo (Marikina, 2nd District), and Rep. Jesus “Bong” Suntay (Quezon City, 4th District).
“There is a public health and public policy need to ensure the safety and security of the population during this pandemic, and that information being distributed is correct and are not irresponsibly and erroneously published,” the lawmakers said in their resolution.
The resolution hinges on the warnings made by infectious diseases expert Dr. Edsel Salvana, who noted on Monday that the projections made by OCTA Research on the spread of COVID-19 in the country are “problematic.”
Salvana told ABS-CBN News Channel that OCTA Research is making projections based on data that is subject to errors because current data is incomplete due to backlogs.
Data given by OCTA Research has been used by various media outfits in covering the COVID-19 pandemic in the country — including their recent call for a circuit breaker lockdown to contain the threat of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
OCTA Research also said the COVID-19 Delta variant may already be spreading undetected in Metro Manila which will be placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20.
The solons said OCTA Research describes itself as a “polling, research, and consultation” firm.
“Based on their website, OCTA describes itself as a ‘polling, research, and consultation firm’ that provides ‘comprehensive, holistic, accurate, rigorous, and insightful data analysis to help our clients in government, the private sector and the NGO community,” the lawmakers said.
“It further indicates that OCTA specializes in public opinion research, qualitative and quantitative research, policy research and advocacy, and training and capacity building,” they added.
They also asked whether the group is really affiliated with the University of the Philippines (UP) after they have used the state university’s name in their press statements.
“Previous infographics and press releases across press outlets and social media platforms refer to the ‘University of the Philippines-OCTA’ group (UP-OCTA) or the “UP-OCTA Research Team” in predicting surges of COVID-19 cases. Moreover, OCTA Research fellow Professor Ranjit Rye has been quoted to refer to the group as the ‘UP-OCTA Research Team’,” the lawmakers noted.
“However, UP-Diliman Associate Professor Peter Cayton emphasized in one news report that there is no office within the campus named OCTA, and that it does ‘not exist in UP’s organizational structure’,” they added.
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