Today is the start of the “hard lockdown” in Metro Manila and adjoining provinces recommended by OCTA Research, an independent think tank composed of academicians from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas that has been providing analysis reports on the country’s pandemic situation.
OCTA’s recommendation to institute a so-called circuit breaker due to an alleged surge has been approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). For the third time in just over a year, the IATF placed the National Capital Region (NCR) under the strictest quarantine protocol known as ECQ.
Last August 3, five lawmakers in the House of Representatives filed a joint resolution calling for an investigation into the credentials and background of OCTA, including its research methodologies and partnerships. Two of the five legislators are Deputy Speakers from the ruling coalition, while one is the Deputy Minority Leader.
At a recent online forum, the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) said its members fully support the NCR lockdown in spite of the bashing from fellow businessmen. FFCCCII President Henry Lim Bon Liong reiterated the group’s support for the ECQ that is intended to stop the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.
Dr. Guido David and Prof. Ranjit Rye, both OCTA fellows who were resource speakers at the FFCCCII virtual event, welcomed the congressional probe because it would give them the opportunity to publicly discuss their methodology. The filing of House Resolution No. 2075 coincided with the release of OCTA’s Tugon ng Masa 2022 pre-election survey conducted during the period from July 12 to 18.
In the presidential race, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio topped the survey at 28% followed by ex-Senator Bongbong Marcos at 13%; Manila Mayor Isko Moreno at 11%; Senators Grace Poe and Manny Pacquiao, tied at 10%; Vice President Leni Robredo and former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, tied at 5%; Senator Bong Go at 4%; Senate President Tito Sotto at 3%; Senator Ping Lacson and former Vice President Jojo Binay, tied at 2%.
Compared to OCTA’s previous survey in February, the latest poll showed three presidentiables whose numbers went up: Duterte-Carpio, from 22% to 28%; Marcos, from 12% to 13%; and Cayetano, from 3% to 5%. The rest either stagnated or went down.
Surprisingly, Cayetano pulled off what more popular politicians failed to do: rising in rank even after resigning as Speaker of the House in October 2020. With hardly any media coverage since then, he almost doubled his numbers and inched up from seventh to fifth place.
Unknown to many citizens, Cayetano and his Balik sa Tamang Sebisyo sa Kongreso colleagues have been going around to distribute P10,000 in “ayuda” to selected beneficiaries. This was to highlight the need to pass the “10K Ayuda Bill” which his group filed last February – aimed at providing P10,000 in cash assistance to every Filipino family.
This direct stimulus will put money in the pockets of many Filipinos and as they spend it, the economy can begin to recover. Cayetano’s group has also been providing aid to sari-sari storeowners, barangay health workers, and other sectors that have been hit hard by the health and economic crisis. They have also been leading in the crafting of a five-year economic recovery plan beyond the pandemic.
By choosing to do something about the crisis instead of just talking about it, his efforts are beginning to get noticed and appreciated. By focusing on action and not mere words, that says a lot about his leadership during times of uncertainty, in contrast to the current crop of politicians. J. Albert Gamboa is a Life Member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly FINEX Digest magazine and the monthly FINEX Focus newsletter. The opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin.