NU Pep Squad coach cries harassment allegedly from contact tracing

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
NU Pep Squad coach cries harassment allegedly from contact tracing
National University Pep Squad head coach Ghicka Bernabe
Philstar.com / Luisa Morales

MANILA, Philippines – Multi-titled National University Pep Squad head coach Ghicka Bernabe is sounding off both caution and alarm over a series of unwarranted calls and text messages that she has received over the last few days, from what she suspects as caused by her details being left for COVID-19 contact tracing in public vehicles and establishments such as banks.

“When I first got a call (from an unknown number), the caller asked if this was me, using my full name, Ghereeka. I had a bad feeling about the call because none of my friends of people who know me ever use my full name. Then he went on to say, ‘nagtatanong lang po kasi may nagbigay ng name mo’.”

“My first thought was it was from those contact tracing sheets that I have to fill up when I take public vehicles or I go to a bank. One other time, the caller asked if he could drive me home.”

Bernabe said she never got these sorts of calls or text messages before. “As much as I want to change my number, I can’t. It is needed for contact tracing in the event I get infected. Should that happen, people will need to know who I have been in contact with and where I have been and vice versa. But these calls and text messages are not only disrespectful, but it is also frightening for us women. I may have blocked the number but this could also happen to others.”

“It might have happened even before the pandemic in these apps where you leave your name, address, and contact number,” postulated Bernabe. “The difference is now, it is open to the public because the people who also sign the sheets will see your name.”

Under Bernabe’s tutelage (including her talented fellow coaches Gabriel Bajacan, Karl Pabilonia, Estong Ocampo Jr., Neil Banaag, and Glenna Etsrera), NU has become a powerhouse in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition, winning six of the last seven competitions. Like many of her assistant coaches, Bernabe competed for Far Eastern University before they were tapped to lead NU’s Pep Squad.

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