Congressional probe sought as Lower House officials question Octa Research's 'credibility'

Published August 4, 2021, 1:28 PM

by Ben Rosario

Leaders of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, August 4 raised serious issues on the credibility of the Octa Research Group as they sought a congressional inquiry into the its “qualifications, methodologies, partnerships and composition”.

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Octa Research, which has demonstrated consistency in making accurate projections about the COVID-19 situation in the country, has welcomed the move of lawmakers.

Officers of the research organization, which has also dabbled in political poll surveys, will be invited to respond to the questions raised by lawmakers who filed House Resolution 2075 to propose the House inquiry to be conducted by the House Committee on Good Government.

HR 2075 is authored by Deputy Speakers Bernadette Herrera (BH Partylist) , Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA Partylist) and Kristine Singson Meehan (2nd District, Ilocos Sur); Deputy Majority Leader Jesus “Bong” Suntay (4th District, Quezon City) and Deputy Minority Leader Stella Luz Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City).

Suntay said they want to be “clarified on the methodology of data gathering” Octa Research has been observing and other information about the group.

He explained that the congressional inquiry is vital as the country continues to struggle against the effects of the pandemic. There is a need to determine whether or not Octa Research’s publicly announced projects has been helping address the problem as it “in a way influences” how people and in certain instances, government react .

According to Suntay other public health experts are opposed to the findings and conclusions aired by Octa Research on various aspects of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Respected infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana has said: “The main problem with OCTA’s case projection model is that it is based on cases reported in the last two weeks.”

“Even a student of clinical epidemiology will tell you that that is not valid because cases that happened within the last two weeks are subject to error, because some get tested later or earlier. There are backlogs, so if you are making projections based on data that is incomplete or erroneous, you are going to come out with erroneous projections,” he pointed out.

While admitting that Octa Research has been able to make good projects, it also had its share of misses.

“The ideal set up is for Octa Research and other experts to sit down and agree how best to tackle the problem,” said Suntay who admitted that this can be difficult because Octa Research is a private organization.