Ear to the Ground: Gossip to be used in COVID-19 contact tracing in Central Visayas

Photo: Philippine National Police/FB
Photo: Philippine National Police/FB

Gossipmongers (“tsismoso“) are typically viewed with disdain in communities, but a high-ranking official of the Philippine National Police said today that they could help in COVID-19 contact tracing in Central Visayas.

Region 7 police chief Brigadier General Albert Ferro said today in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo that not all forms of gossip are destructive— some could even be useful.

“The fight against COVID is not necessarily just a fight involving the police, the military, and the local government…So even the small[est] gossip [could help us]. There are two types of gossip: one that’s destructive and one that is helpful. [What we will] use are stories which will be helpful [in contact tracing],” Ferro said in English and Filipino.

Read: Cebu Provincial Capitol to shut down after 15 employees infected with COVID-19

Ferro said that they could rely on gossip to track a person’s movement and to know if anyone in a neighborhood is displaying COVID-19 symptoms such as fever and cough.

“Those are the important things. You make use of those stories, you make use of those details that would help each and every Filipino save lives,” he said

“Like us [Filipinos], when we hear something, we immediately tell our relatives. These days, we need even the smallest information to save lives. It’s important. So instead of [these gossipmongers] picking lice from each other, we make use of those observations to save lives,” he added.

Read: No To Doctor Shaming: Cebu Governor Garcia skewered for scolding young GP online

Ferro first announced his plan about harnessing the power of gossip spreaders in an interview with Visayas-based publication The Freeman, where he said, “What do we call this, the gossipmonger brigade… they could be a good source. They said these gossipmongers, we can ask you to help us in our contact tracing.”

Good luck, general. Maybe working with a group of tsismoso is the answer to the Philippines’ COVID-19 problem.

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