MANILA - A member of the OCTA Research Group on Monday said it will continue to conduct political surveys despite being investigated by a House panel for its methodologies and studies on the COVID-19 pandemic.
OCTA Research Group’s Ranjit Rye, in a hearing by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, defended their publication of surveys on electoral preferences.
“We don’t do political surveys alone. And in recognition of the importance of our work, we’ve been very, very careful about releasing these results. I think we have to continue because public opinion research is important, especially for democracy so it’s the life of the country," Rye told lawmakers.
“The 2022 elections (are) important to the life of the country. We have to understand, we have to do public opinion research on this. It’s an important thing we will continue to do so, but that won’t be the focus of our research alone," he said.
Rye claimed their political surveys are merely “incidental.”
“Just happened talagang may election tayo sa 2022. And it’s important to do public opinion research because the elections of 2022 (are) important to the life of our country, to the democracy,” he said.
Later in the hearing, Rye confirmed that they charge P200,000 for subscribers of their service, saying OCTA is a self-supporting organization and it is not endowed or supported by one person, or group. He said OCTA relies largely on funds generated from subscribers.
But he said they do not have a subscriber from local government units.
“We have subscribers. Some of them are from the private sector, some of them are in the Senate and in the House. We have that kind of subscribers, similar to SWS and Pulse (Asia). We have no subscribers from the local government," he said.
Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo said OCTA's political surveys could be a potential source of conflict.
“It’s actually possible na wala talagang conflict of interest sa katotohanan. However, sa mata ng publiko, hindi ba magkakaroon ng ganung shadow of doubt?" she said.
"Na-e-erode ang value ng information na gine-generate ninyo because we have a transactional relationship?”
Rye assured there will be none.
”You can validate it and the methods that were utilized are accessible to all. And when we do our studies, we go on a regional level," he said.
Some officials and some members of the public have criticized OCTA for making projections and recommendations that led to lockdowns in the country.
But the research group said it is unfair to solely blame them for the enforcement of community quarantines, saying they are not part of the government.
“We merely recommend. Honestly, it is wrong to say that OCTA is responsible for the decision of government. Government has the Department of Health,” Rye said.