PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Archie Gamboa on Sunday, August 9, 2020, justified their involvement in contact tracing, saying investigative skills are needed to extract important details from the public.
Gamboa said Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong, head of the National Contact Tracing Task Force and a former police officer, has encouraged the police to use their skills in conducting cognitive interviews.
“Difficult yan kapag walang cognitive investigative skills ‘yung mag-iinterview kasi kunwari magtanong lang, (sagot lang sa ‘yo) hindi ko na maalala, okay surrender na ako, hindi niyo maalala pero kapag imbestigador ka, kumbaga makulit ka to find out really and you have a way of aiding questions that would lead na makaalala siya ng kanyang mga ginawa in the past,” he said.
Magalong, a former chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, was appointed as contact tracing czar after the Baguio City Government was commended for their Covid-19 response and contact tracing strategy.
As of August 8, Baguio City has recorded 158 coronavirus infections with four deaths and 99 recoveries.
Gamboa said Magalong has developed a system that facilitates contact tracing, allowing local governments to easily determine the need to impose a lockdown whenever necessary.
The police are being tapped to assist the Department of Health and the local government units in the conduct of contact tracing in the communities.
The move has drawn criticisms, with critics comparing the planned house-to-house search for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients to Oplan Tokhang.
Tokhang, derived from the Bisaya words “toktok” (knock) and “hangyo” (request or plead), is a police campaign to find suspected drug personalities and convince them to surrender. The campaign, however, has led to the killing of drug personalities who allegedly resist arrest. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)