Questions on the identity of a research group arose after reports affiliated the OCTA Research with the University of the Philippines on social media.
A local news outlet released a social media post reporting about the group’s forecast on the surge of new cases in the country and its suggestion that it could be driven by the new COVID-19 variants.
It referred to the group as the “UP-OCTA Research Team” and identified it as “UP-OCTA” in its accompanying social media graphics.
Some Filipinos saw the post and admitted to being confused.
“Oh… So sino po ito? All this time kala ko UP?” a Twitter user asked.
The query was in response to a statistician’s tweet about the social media post.
Associate professor Peter Cayton of UP Diliman wrote that there is no office within the campus named “OCTA.”
“They do not exist in UP’s organizational structure,” he added.
Connections to UP
The OCTA Research has been associated with forecasts and analyses of the country’s situation in terms of COVID-19.
Typing “OCTA Research” on UP’s website reveals some forecast reports for COVID-19 dated 2020.
Its latest uploaded report, which was posted on UP’s website on July 23, 2020, reveals a note about the team in the context of COVID-19.
“The UP-OCTA team is an independent and interdisciplinary research group composed primarily of UP faculty members and alumni. This independent research team also includes contributors from the University of Santo Tomas and Providence College, USA.”
“The findings and recommendations in the report are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, Providence College, or any of its units.”
One of its members, professor Ranjit Singh Rye of UP’s political science department, also referred to the group as “UP-OCTA Research Team” in an article on The Philippine STAR’s 34th anniversary special.
He also said that the group is “composed of academics.”
Rye shared that he and his childhood friend, Dr. David Guido of UP’s Institute of Mathematics, initially “decided to do research that nobody else was doing.”
“We started to monitor the pandemic using a methodology to do models and projections,” he said in the article.
“We call ourselves OCTA, to differentiate ourselves from the other UP groups. It was fitting because we started with eight people, and we were supported by a company that is called Octa,” Rye added.
“Eventually, we were joined by more members — faculty and alumni from UP, and even a team from UST that heard about our work and said that they were doing modelling of their own — so why not work together?” he further said.
Rye shared that members from the UST are Reverend Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, who is a visiting professor from Providence College in the USA, and Bernhard Egwolf, a fellow from UST’s Research Center for the Natural Sciences and Applied Sciences.
He shared that apart from them, there are also people from the Philippine One Health University Network and the Blueprint Campaign Consultancy who are on the team as well.
The OCTA Research describes itself as a “polling, research and consultation firm” based in Barangay Matandang Balara or Old Balara in Quezon City.
It said that it provides “comprehensive, holistic, accurate, rigorous, and insightful data analysis to help our clients in government, the private sector and the NGO community.”
The firm specializes in giving public opinion research, qualitative and quantitative research, policy research and advocacy, and training and capacity building.