Senator Richard Gordon on Monday opposed a planned House panel investigation on the Octa Research Group (Octa) describing the hearing as a “waste of resources”.

In a statement, Gordon said that he is objecting to House Resolution No. 2075 which seeks an inquiry “in aid of legislation to ascertain the credentials and background” of Octa, as “a waste of resources and constitutes a veiled attempt to assign the blame to the bearer of bad news”.

He said Octa cannot be “gaming the system” to promote its professional reputation at the expense of public welfare.

Gordon questioned the “dubious motives” behind the attempt to investigate OCTA since the group, according to Gordon, has shown a “high level of accuracy” in predicting surges of cases in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces.

He asked if Octa is “being punished for being right”.

Gordon, the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee chair, said legislators should instead focus on more pressing matters to address the pandemic such as the non-payment of claims by PhilHealth to health service providers, the lack of testing and contact tracing in most LGUs, and the ramping up of vaccination nationwide.

House Committee on Good Government chair Rep. Michael Aglipay (DIWA Partylist) assured the public that his committee’s investigation into Octa’s activities will be fair and objective.

Reacting to Gordon’s statements, Aglipay said that he will not “prejudge the motives of the authors or merits of the subject of the inquiry.”

However, Deputy Speaker Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro City) said the investigation would only “distract Octa from its work.”

“It will not contribute to our collective effort to fight the rampaging new coronavirus and its highly infectious variants,” he said in a statement.

Deputy Speakers Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA), Bernadette Herrera (BH 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) filed House Resolution No. 2075 on Tuesday, August 3, urging a House panel investigation into Octa’s “qualifications, research methodologies, partnerships, and composition.”

“There is a public health and public policy need to ensure the safety and security of the population during this pandemic, and that information being distributed is correct and are [sic] not irresponsibly published,” the resolution read.

It also quoted infectious disease expert Edsel Salvana in questioning Octa’s case projections, insisting the group used “incomplete and erroneous” data.

On Friday, August 6, Octa Research fellow Guido David said in an interview with DZMM’s TeleRadyo that their group was ready to face the House panel inquiry but questioned whether “the House is the proper venue because they might not be the expert.”

David insisted that the investigation into their work should be done in a scientific venue so that academics, scientists, and fellow researchers can peer review their findings.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Octa’s projections about Covid-case surges were mostly accurate, but Health officials have tagged them as alarmist. – Rommel F. Lopez