House on move to probe Octa: We want to know them better


Lawmakers on Wednesday assured the public that the impending House investigation into analytics group Octa Research won’t not turn up to be a “witch hunt,” and basically intended to “make sense” of their Covid-19 data and projections.

Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera and Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Suntay issued the clarification amid fears by certain quarters that the looming probe is meant to discredit Octa.

“We just want to know them [Octa] better, and we want to know the methodology used in their analytics and for them to contextualize their pronouncements,” Herrera said during the virtual Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum.

“If ever Octa will end up the one who could help us, then why not? We are interested dahil kulang tayo sa data analytics and we all know that. And if this is one thing that could help our country, why not?” Herrera added.

Also, Suntay said claims of a possible witch hunt are “farthest from the truth.”

“We are not here to discredit anyone, especially in this time of the pandemic,” the Quezon City lawmaker said. “Lahat ng sectors na gustong tumulong sa ating bansa—whether it is the government, the private sector or NGOs—we have to work together.”

Earlier, Herrera, Suntay, Ilocos Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan, AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin and Minority Leader Stella Luz Quimbo filed House Resolution 2075 urging the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct an inquiry on the qualifications, research methodologies, partnerships and composition of Octa Research Philippines.

The resolution came after Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the government’s Technical Advisory Group on Covid-19, slammed Octa for its allegedly unsound projections and for sowing panic among the population.

Herrera and Suntay said the House would invite officials of the Department of Health (DOH) and other health experts to the congressional hearing, which would take place once the enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region (NCR) is lifted.

The projections and warnings of Octa Research on the Covid-19 pandemic are being considered by the national government and local government units, the most recent of which is the hard lockdown currently being implemented in NCR and other provinces in the country.

Meanwhile, Herrera said she has spoken to Octa’s Professor Ranjit Rye and assured that the research group need not worry about the investigation since this will be the venue for them to introduce themselves further to the public.

Suntay, meanwhile, justified that the inquiry is not a waste of time, especially since it would be done in “aid of legislation.”

“We believe that any information that we could derive from this hearing, and which would be translated to better policies is not a waste of time,” Suntay said.

He said the probe would also serve as a “venue of an intellectual conversation between different groups, different agencies both of government and private sector in order to arrive at how we can join hands and help our country.”

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