October 14, 2020 – 11:12am
MANILA, Philippines — A member of the OCTA Research team on Wednesday said his group will no longer publicize their recommendations for quarantine classifications.
This comes just a day after presidential spokesman Harry Roque during a virtual briefing said that it would be better for the research group to relay their observations to the COVID-19 task force privately. He also revealed that he made this same request directly to the research group.
“Certain recommendations are okay, it’s just the specific recommendation [such as] going into a level of quarantine. Because, at the same time also, [the government has] more information on the ground, like what’s happening in that area and we agree with that,” UP Mathematics professor Guido Davd said during an interview with ANC’ “Headstart.”
David clarified that the research group would still be publishing data on COVID-19 as well as trend analysis to both the media and the general public.
He added that this would still be in full compliance with the request relayed to the group by Roque, saying that the presidential spokesman may not have been able to fully elaborate on his statements the day before.
“He’s a very passionate individual, and sometimes when he speaks, it tends to confuse people. Actually, that’s included in what he said, or at least he clarified to us later, that we can still publish data and trend analysis and certain recommendation,” the researcher said in English and Filipino.
‘We want the president to make the right decision without pressure from the public’
Roque on Wednesday morning again stressed the importance of keeping recommendations on quarantine classifications private to avoid putting undue pressure on the president’s decision making process.
“Any recommendation publicly made tends to… influence the president because there will be public opinion generated by the recommendation and we want the president to make the right decision without pressure from public opinion,” he told CNN Philippines’ “The Source.”
According to Roque, President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet keeps their own recommendations private to “enable the president to make the correct decision even if it will be an unpopular decision.”
“Health consideration is very important, but as you know, we’re now at a point where, we’re not talking about the economy, we’re talking about people going hungry, people being malnourished because of lack of income. So it is in this context that the president should be allowed leeway in deciding what is best for the country,” he added.
Similarly, Gudio told ANC: “We agree that this is the task of the government because they have to balance certain factors, several factors. We’re just looking at it from the perspective of the numbers, like which one we believe has high risk assessment right now.”
Before all this, the OCTA Research team recommended that the towns of Bauan in Batangas, Calbayog in Western Samar, and General Trias in Cavite be reverted to a stricter quarantine status after an increase in daily attack rate were recorded in the said areas.
Roque on Wednesday said the recommendations of the OCTA research group and the COVID-19 task force rarely diverge. However, public outcry and pleas from the health sector have forced the government to revoke its quarantine classifications before.
In August, as infections were surging and frontliners were becoming increasingly overwhelmed, medical professionals wrote an open letter to the COVID-19 task force urging that Metro Manila and nearby provinces be reverted to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine.
Although he granted their request, Duterte accused the medical professionals of calling for a revolution — something they have vehemently denied. The chief executive also remarked that they could have just coursed their request through a letter instead of making it public.
Second Opinion Philippines soon after reiterated that they were calling for a “demilitarized medical quarantine,” led by the health sector.
As it stands, it has been 213 days since Metro Manila was first placed under lockdown — marking the longest community quarantine period in the world. Cases are still being reported by the thousands daily. Data from the health department places the national caseload over 334,000 and deaths at 6,372.