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Lawmaker wants OCTA Research stopped from releasing COVID-19 outlook

/ 05:49 PM September 06, 2021

Lawmaker wants OCTA Research stopped from releasing COVID-19 outlook

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has called on fellow members of the House of Representatives to consider the possibility of stopping analytics group OCTA Research from releasing its reports and COVID-19 outlook to avoid panic among the public.

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According to Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, this is because the data being released by OCTA Research does not properly depict what is happening on the ground — banking on claims made by infectious disease experts Dr. John Wong and Dr. Edsel Salvana, both working with the Department of Health (DOH).

“I’m urging my colleagues, pagbawalan na natin ‘tong OCTA, from making any pronouncement,” Atienza said, after quizzing the firm about its background and the alleged attempt to tie itself with the University of the Philippines (UP) even if they are two separate entities.

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“Lalong-lalo na regarding COVID because we have not gotten anything from them, and people are in desperate need of some assurance na hindi naman 100 percent accurate ang nire-release nila,” he claimed.

After Atienza’s remarks, the House committee on good government and public accountability chair and Diwa party-list Rep. Michael Aglipay chimed in by saying that it seems OCTA Research has been over-exposed to the media, unlike other public opinion polling firms Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia.

“I’ve come across with the SWS, with the Pulse Asia, and medyo over-exposure kayo sir eh.  It’s best that (you) let the data, let your analysis speak for itself, your commentary is too much, you’ve exceeded the bounds of commentary already,” Aglipay explained.

“We believe in your scientific methods, but just release a press statement.  Like the DOH, they release a press statement every day; that’s it.  Your press conferences and your interviews are so much already in the time of suffering,” he added.

OCTA Research was grilled during the House hearing, which sought to clarify the analytics group’s qualifications and background, as lawmakers claimed that its pronouncements carried negative effects.  The group was asked questions about its capability to do infection growth models, along with its source of funding.

The questions on OCTA Research rose after it was observed that media used information from the private firm in reporting about the COVID-19 pandemic outlook, allegedly inducing panic and showing a far worse health crisis than what the country has as of now.

READ: Lockdown weak or Delta too strong – OCTA Research 

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READ: OCTA notes NCR ‘serious surge’; hints Delta variant community transmission 

However, OCTA Research maintained that they had not influenced policymaking as they left the decision with the national government, stressing that they only made recommendations based on the numbers they obtained — which they arrived at using DOH data.

OCTA Research fellow and UP Professor Guido David reasoned that they have not yet made a wrong prediction about possible COVID-19 surges, noting that all three predicted surges actually happened.

READ: Inaccurate data? OCTA Research says all 3 COVID-19 surge predictions happened

This includes the latest COVID-19 surge spurred by the dreaded Delta variant, said to be 60 percent more transmissible than previous variants.

READ: OCTA sees overwhelmed NCR hospitals by end-August if hard lockdown not set 

The same firm said that the Delta variant might already spread undetected in Metro Manila even before the Department of Health and other health experts admitted that Delta is already the dominant variant.

READ: ‘Community transmission’ of Delta variant may now be happening in NCR – OCTA 

Despite these, Atienza still stressed that OCTA Research should not be making any pronouncements and instead should have left this to the DOH as the national agency tasked with managing the pandemic.

“We are in a state of emergency.  So in a state of war and emergency, can anybody just declare something and proclaim whatever they believe in lalong-lalo na kung makakasama sa interes ng taumbayan?” Atienza asked.

“Siguro dapat meron tayong kaunting prudence, kung anuman ‘yong finding ninyo, padaanin ninyo sa Department of Health.  Hindi kayo nagsasalita as if you were commissioned,” he added.

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TAGS: Committee on good government and public accountability, Congress, COVID-19 data, COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 response, House of Representatives, lockdowns, OCTA Research, Philippine news updates
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