By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Senator Leila de Lima is seeking an inquiry into the supposed faulty data reporting of the Department of Health (DOH) over the actual number of Filipinos infected by the coronavirus pandemic.
De Lima, chair of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, explained that “accurate and up-to date data about COVID-19 and the resources the country has in the fight to survive the global pandemic is vital not only in policy-making, but as well as in upholding the right of the people to information on matters of public concern.”
According to De Lima, serious issues and concerns hounding the integrity of the figures being released by DOH must be settled to regain public trust.
De Lima recently filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 443 directing the appropriate Senate committee to address the serious issues concerning DOH’s COVID-19 inaccurate data reporting.
She noted the report of the University of the Philippines COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team last May 12, which revealed alarming errors in the data reports provided by the DOH on the COVID-19 statistics.
Including in the dubious report are the alleged “unreconciled differences in numbers between DOH and LGUs,” and inconsistencies in the patient-level data and the use of date formats in the agency’s data drop on COVID-19 cases.
Roughly two weeks after, the DOH admitted the data errors in a hearing conducted by the House of Representatives, saying that the country is experiencing a 12-day backlog in the outcome of samples from COVID-19 tests, and the agency is facing challenges in ensuring that the data being reported is real-time.
De Lima stressed that more than two months from the time President Rodrigo Duterte declared a nationwide State of Calamity, the DOH “is still at the stage of making an attempt to provide real-time data despite the continued backlogs in the testing results previously conducted.”
According to De Lima, the Duterte administration particularly the DOH and their faulty reporting have contributed “to the erosion of public trust” in the government.
She added that the questionable figures have “pushed us into further disarray” as the quarantine level has been downgraded to a more relaxed General Community Quarantine (GCQ) to kickstart the economy in Metro Manila.
“An up-to-date and transparent reporting system would eliminate any suspicion of data manipulation for purposes of political gains,” she said.