Palace tells UP, UST experts to stop publicizing quarantine status recommendations
Market life in virus-hit Philippines continues with consumers still flocking to stores. The country now has more than 342,000 infections with over 6,300 dead.
The STAR/Edd Gumaban
Palace tells UP, UST experts to stop publicizing quarantine status recommendations
Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - October 13, 2020 - 3:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday said a group of experts from universities should refrain from publicizing their recommendations on quarantine classifications in the country to avoid preempting government from making decisions. 

The OCTA Research team had recently said the towns of Bauan in Batangas, Calbayog in Western Samar, and General Trias in Cavite should be reverted to a stricter quarantine status after an increase in its daily attack rate were recorded in the said areas. 

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a briefing that while they appreciate the group's efforts in monitoring virus cases, it would be better for them to course their observations privately to the IATF. 

"I have requested for them to desist from making recommendations on classifications as it is really the job of experts," he said in mixed Filipino and English. "I understand they have one or two epidemiologists but it's still not the same number of experts working with the IATF."

Roque said the provincial governments along with the regional IATF could make the said decision on the municipalities, as he responded to questions on the group's call. 

But, he added that even the crisis panel dealing with the pandemic does not release to the public their recommendations before submitting to President Rodrigo Duterte, who Roque said makes the final call. 

"They can probably endorse their recommendations privately to the IATF so that the panel is not preempted," he said. 

The UP OCTA Research team began providing forecasts back in April, when the coutnry was still in hard lockdowns from the COVID-19. Experts from the University of Santo Tomas later on joined in the group.

They have also warned that easing quarantine measures in Metro Manila could see the country's total cases ballooning, which now stands at 342,816 as of October 13, with 6,332 deaths. 

In June, Roque touted victory with his "Congratulations, Philippines" remarks over beating OCTA's projections that the Philippines will see 40,000 infections by end of the said month. It was, however, just short of about a few thousands from the 36,438 tally by end-June. 

The government has long faced criticism for how it has put retired military officials instead of health experts in charge of its response to a pandemic in the country that has emerged to have the highest number of infections in Southeast Asia and among the world's Top 20 nations with highest cases. 

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