Friday, July 24, 2020

Using gossips in pandemic ‘trivializes’ health crisis

A women’s party list group on Thursday slammed the reported use by the Philippine National Police of rumormongers, or “chismosas,” for contact tracing activities, calling it a mockery of the worries that families have over the rising cases of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

Police Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro of the PNP Regional Office in Central Visayas on Thursday said authorities have decided to tap ordinary citizens to increase the number of contact tracing teams in the city, and clarified his earlier statement about tapping neighborhood gossips to track down possible carriers of COVID-19.

“You don’t necessarily have to be a chismosa. Anyone, including critics of the government, can volunteer and help in our contact tracing efforts. Everybody is welcome,” Ferro told the Inquirer.

But Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said at a press briefing that the PNP’s plan was reflective of the “trivialization” by the Duterte administration of the life-and-death situation many Filipinos face due to the continuing threat of COVID-19.

Serious and important

“Contact tracing is a serious and important health program especially in a pandemic, and should never be reduced to dependence on gossips,” Brosas said.

She added that the PNP Central Visayas’ plan also reinforces the chismosa stereotype among the growing number of unemployed women in communities.

“On President Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address, we must make him accountable for criminal cuts in health programs and for showing no serious intent to save us from this pandemic,” the party list representative said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in a radio interview, laughed off the PNP’s idea, and said that contract tracers “should have a background on criminal investigation.”

At the same time, he admitted that contract tracers need no special qualifications except for the “ability to think and analyze.”

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