PRO-7 warns against blackmailing contract tracers

CEBU CITY – Authorities here expressed alarm over reports that there are individuals who have been posing as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contact tracers.

PRO-7 Director Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro (PRO-7 Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
PRO-7 Director Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro (PRO-7 Facebook page / File photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

There have been reports that fake contact tracers have been demanding cash so that the identities of possible COVID-19 carriers will not be exposed.

Police Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro, chief of the Police Regional Office Central Visayas, has tasked the region’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to look into such reports.

“There are really unscrupulous people and they are just adding a bigger chaotic environment to our system instead of doing something good for everybody,” said Ferro.

City Councilor Joel Garganera, the deputy chief implementer for the Interagency Task Force Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said the city’s contact tracing efforts should not be muddled as it has greatly contributed to the lowering of COVID-19 cases in the city.

“Efficient contact tracing is one of the most significant factors that greatly contributed in the decrease of the number cases in Cebu City. It is the heart of our emergency response operations. Our contact tracers on the ground and in the community have tirelessly invested their energy and efforts in ensuring that we would properly adhere to the rule of 3 in pandemic response— test, trace, and isolate,” said Garganera.

Garganera said the city has already coordinated with the police to track down these fake contact tracers.

“We have been receiving reports of individuals and groups misrepresenting themselves as contact tracers and took advantage of this pandemic for their own personal gain and we will not take this lightly. This is about our integrity,” Garganera said.

Garganera assured the public that the EOC was protecting the privacy of possible COVID-19 patients.

Necessary information gathered during contact tracing should only be given to authorized persons such as the barangay captains and the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).

Garganera explained that these BHERTs were responsible and essential in the city’s COVID-19 response efforts at the barangay level.

“There is no way that our contact tracers would ask for money for whatever purposes. Let us therefore be proactive so we can continue to flatten the curve,” said Garganera.