Malacañang called on health experts to forward their suggestions for the government’s pandemic response in private instead of expressing them publicly.

The OCTA Research Team, composed of health experts from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas, in its latest report urged the imposition of stricter quarantine classifications in Bauan, Batangas, Calbayog, Western Samar and General Trias, Cavite due to the spike in Covid-19 cases in the areas.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said that while he appreciated the OCTA team’s help in monitoring the country’s Covid-19 situation, he would rather have them submit their findings to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases directly.

“Sana po, 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 – can also course the recommendations to the IATF privately,” Roque said in a virtual presser.

“I understand although they have one or two epidemiologists, it’s still not the same number of experts working with the IATF ‘no, hindi lang po sa DOH (Department of Health),” he added.

Roque also pointed out that the municipalities OCTA listed in its report could impose localized lockdowns in coordination with regional IATF offices and without the involvement of the national IATF.

The Philippines remains the country with the highest Covid-19 case total in Southeast Asia, with 344,713 infections as of Oct. 13. John Ezekiel J. Hirro