Press Release
September 7, 2021

Don't muzzle independent researchers; listen to Leni, Isko

Scientists should not be muzzled during the pandemic as their views guide government in decision making, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

"We can't contain the pandemic if we censor studies," Recto said, referring to calls to stop the independent OCTA Research from sharing their research to the public.

"After all, OCTA people do not craft policy. They merely recommend. And their output is subjected to review by the government's own panel of experts," he said.

He said if government's narrative is not dominating the discussion, "then officials should up their game on how to communicate the findings."

"But telling OCTA to stand down is not the solution. Kung sa tingin ng pamahalaan hindi tama ang OCTA, then challenge their findings. This is the kind of exchange that will enlighten us all," Recto said.

"Collaboration is what is needed now. The bigger the network of research groups and laboratories working on a problem, the bigger the crowd you can source ideas from," Recto said.

He said OCTA is made up of credentialed academics. "Hindi naman sila conspiracy theorists that rely on fake news from fringe groups. Hindi naman sila engaged in some sort of research budol-budol."

Recto said criticisms by Vice President Leni Robredo and Mayor Isko Moreno on the administration's handling of the pandemic, dismissed by the Palace as "politics", should instead be viewed as "valued feedback."

"Dapat tingnan ang mga opinyon nila as dispatches from the frontlines, kasi nasa ground naman sila lagi pareho," he said.

Also, Moreno and Robredo "are merely amplifying what health workers and local government executives have been saying."

"Kaya lang, pag ordinaryong nurse ang naglabas ng sama ng loob, hanggang Facebook rant lang. Pag Vice President or Mayor of Manila, nasa news agad o trending sa Twitter," he said.

He said the Palace should treat local governments as important listening posts that can improve government handling of the pandemic.

He said Moreno and other city mayors "who are in the trenches, who are responding to distress calls every hour of the day--from patients to be hospitalized, given medicines, or buried--have earned the right to speak their mind."

"Every disaster movie begins with a scene of a scientist or a local official being ignored. Let us not allow this to happen in real life," Recto said.

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