Rodriguez assails Lower House bid to probe 'pandemic heroes' Octa Research

Published August 6, 2021, 11:24 AM

by Ben Rosario

Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Friday, August 6 asked fellow officials of the House of Representatives to stop “wasting” people’s money by investigating the Octa Research group whose members should be hailed as “heroes of the war against the pandemic.”

“It will just distract OCTA from its work. It will not contribute to our collective effort to fight the rampaging new coronavirus and its highly infectious variants,” said Rodriguez in a statement.

Rodriguez was referring to House Resolution 2075 filed 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).

The authors asked the House Committee on Good Government to conduct the probe into OCTA Research’s “qualifications, methodologies, partnerships and composition.”

Calls for congressional probe are rarely opposed in the Lower House but Rodriguez’s move appeared to have gained the backing of a number of his House colleagues.

They noted that OCTA Research had tremendously helped the country avert more sickness and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am opposing their resolution seeking the investigation of OCTA. Instead of being investigated, this group should be supported, encouraged and requested to continue with their good work and the big help it is giving to our country in fighting this crippling health crisis,” said Rodriguez.

Instead of being persecuted, the group should be considered as among the heroes of the war against the pandemic.

Rodriguez said OCTA researchers and fellows, who include mathematicians and health professionals,“are very qualified and their findings are accurate and supported by data.”

He recalled that last May 8, the group warned the national pandemic response task force that Covid-19 cases were increasing in areas outside Metro Manila, including Cagayan de Oro, where it found a 75-percent spike in infections.

The warning prompted him and city officials to call for more vaccines and other forms of assistance to help the city control the surge in cases.

Twelve days later, OCTA again reported that CDO was still a high risk area because increasing Covid 19 cases. DS Rodriguez wrote another letter to IATF for more vaccines.

These letters based on OCTA reports resulted in President Duterte ordering the re-calibration of the distribution of vaccines and allocate more vaccines to critical areas like Cagayan de Oro. Since then, CDO have been receiving adequate vaccines.

Two months later, he said the Department of Health reported that five of 11 local Delta variant-infected persons were from Cagayan de Oro and one from Misamis Oriental, the province to which the city belongs.

“OCTA took note of the worsening situation in our city ahead of concerned national officials. Cagayan de Oro thanks OCTA research group,” he added.