Hey, Upper East Siders (well, concerned people of the Philippines), Gossip Gi—err, Tsismosang Tita here, and I have the biggest news ever. In today’s pandemic news, I just heard that one local police force plans to utilize gossipers or “tsismosas” for COVID-19 contact tracing. Yup, you heard that right.
The police in Region 7 issued a statement, as reported by Cebu-based publication The Freeman on July 21, appealing to the public to be more active in contact tracing, emphasizing that it shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the authorities.
“What do we call this, the tsismoso brigade… they could be a good source, sa Bulacan man yata. Sabi nila, mga tsismosa, we [can] ask you to help us sa atong contact tracing… instead na paglibak, naa silay maayong [matabang],” said Police Regional Office 7 Director Albert Ignatius Ferro.
“This health emergency crisis is not only the job or responsibility of the police, of the military, or the local government. This is a responsibility of every single Sugbuanon, Boholano, Ilonggo, Ilocano, Bisaya and all the Filipino citizens,” he continued.
Just like how Gossip Girl sneaked into the lives of Manhattan’s elite, it seems that Region 7’s police officers will be relying on local gossip girls (I’d like to start calling them tsismosang titas) to track the spread of the virus in the province of Cebu.
However, this wasn’t the only case that gossip was used to keep track of COVID-19 in a Philippine town. According to a National Geographic report, Dr. Anthony Cortez relied on elderly women’s gossip to keep tabs on who goes in and out of a town in Nueva Vizcaya. The report also said that the town’s tsismosang titas were thrilled to help, but Cortez had to quickly intervene whenever rumors of positive cases would arise.
Should the police in Region 7 push through with this plan, it could become more difficult to control the spread of rumors and it may end up encouraging malicious rumor-mongering, instilling fear and discrimination among citizens and putting more people at risk.
In light of the government’s criticized “targeted testing,” it looks like you’ll be relying on information from Tsismosang Titas, your only source into the lives of the country’s persons under investigation.
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