Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has discouraged a local research group from making public its recommendations on placing areas under stricter lockdown to avoid confusion.
According to Roque, OCTA Research group could instead relay their suggestions on the risk classification level of an area to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) in private.
The government task force chaired by Health Secretary Francisco Duque reviews the quarantine level of a place and makes the appropriate recommendation to President Duterte for his final decision.
“Well, I really appreciate the efforts po of OCTA Research Team in helping us monitor COVID cases. Pero ni-request ko na po sa kanila na to desist from making recommendations on classification kasi talaga pong trabaho naman po iyan ng mga eksperto (But I requested them to desist from making recommendations on classification because that’s the job of the experts),” he said during a televised press briefing Tuesday.
He pointed out that the research does not have the same number of experts working with the IATF, the policy making group on the pandemic response.
“I understand, although they have one or two epidemiologists ‘no, it’s still not the same number of experts working with the IATF ‘no, hindi lang po sa DOH (Department of Health),” he said.
“I wish they would refrain from making these recommendations publicly. They can probably endorse or course their recommendations privately to the IATF nang hindi naman po napapangunahan (so they will not preempt) highlighting the fact that classifications are normally announced no less than the President himself,” he said.
The OCTA Research team earlier urged the government to implement stricter lockdown measures in Bauan in Batangas, Calbayog in Western Samar, and General Trias in Cavite due to an increase in coronavirus cases in the past two weeks.
The group also recommended more stringent restrictions in areas with limited hospital capacity or hospital occupancy rates higher than 70 percent.
On the recommendation to place certain areas under stricter lockdown, Roque said the concerned local government units are empowered to act on such matters in coordination with the regional IATF.
“Kung pupuwede po, let’s do the recommendations privately through the IATF. We will forward it to the regional IATF if need be, at saka emphasizing again that only the President announces po the classifications,” he said.
“If the IATF itself does not make public its recommendations to the President, sana the OCTA team—and this is really an appeal para hindi po nagkakagulo (so there will be no confusion)—can also course the recommendations to the IATF privately,” he added.
Metro Manila has remained under a general community quarantine until the end of the month. Other GCC areas are Batangas, Tacloban City, Bacolod City, Iligan City and Iloilo City. Lanao del Sur, including Marawi City, is under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
The rest of the country meanwhile has stayed under the least restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ)
As of October 13, the country has recorded 344,713 cases of coronavirus with 6,372 deaths and 293,383 recoveries.