On Monday, June 29, 2020, the hearing for ABS-CBN's franchise renewal resumed in Congress. Among those who spoke during the hearing was former DZMM anchor Jobert Sucaldito, who aired his side after being indefinitely suspended from his own radio program due to malicious comments made against Nadine Lustre and her breakup with James Reid earlier this year.
Sucaldito's appearance in Congress
Sucaldito appeared in Congress via a conference call where he expressed his disappointment in ABS-CBN for his dismissal from the DZMM radio program, even after 17 years of working with them. He pointed out ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak's statement about employees losing jobs because of the franchise termination, and asked, "But what about us? Napaka-harsh ng inyong desisyon."
He also recounted and brought up the issue that led to his dismissal. In January 2020, fans were outraged after Sucaldito made comments on air about Lustre and her post-breakup social media posts, saying, "'Di ba iyon naman ang gusto nila? Kuno-kuno na may mga labas ng puwet, naka T-back pa doon sa building, tapos may mga nakalagay na caption na parang gustong tumalon sa building. Sana tumalon na lang kung ganoon din naman pala."
During the hearing, he explained that he made this statement because, "hindi ko nagustuhan ang tabas ng dila ni Nadine," pertaining to how Lustre called out long-time columnist Ricky Lo for his article, which connected her mental health and her brother's death to her breakup.
Nadine makes a statement
Nadine took to Instagram to call out Sucaldito again for bringing up the issue during ABS-CBN's franchise renewal hearing. In her Instagram Story, Nadine writes, "I can't believe you're using this issue to fight our home network whose only objective is to protect us. Kahit pagbali-baliktarin mo, mali yung sinabi mo. Inalis ka sa trabaho dahil MALI YUNG SINABI MO."
In a second Story, she adds, "I'm sick and tired of these boomers treating mental issues like it's a mf joke."
Mental health in the Philippines
In 2012, the suicide rate in the country was 2.9 per 100,000 Filipinos. In 2016, the rate rose to 3.7 per 100,000 Filipinos. Upjohn, a division of Pfizer, says that currently, there are only around 700 registered psychiatrists and 1,000 psychiatric nurses out of the 101 million Filipinos in our population. For every 100,000 Filipinos, there are only two mental health workers available to attend to them.
In addition, only about five percent of the total health budget allocated by the government is being used for mental health initiatives. While laws like the Republic Act 11036, or the Mental Health Act, are one step towards better mental health recognition, there are still ways to go.
Mental illness has long been considered taboo, especially in the Philippines. Many have acquired the generations-long habit of belittling mental health struggles by saying that "it's all in the head." Local terms like "sira-ulo" are being casually thrown around to refer to individuals with mental health conditions or are used to compare people to someone struggling with one as though it's an insult. Because of this, many Filipinos are still afraid to seek treatment for fear of being stigmatized or treated differently.
But as Nadine once said, "It is never okay to use someone's mental situation/tragic past just to prove a point. Mental illness is a very sensitive matter."
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health concerns, here are some important numbers and websites in the Philippines:
Crisis Line (for free, non-judgmental, and anonymous telephone counseling):
Landline: (02) 893-7603
Globe Duo: 0917-800-1123 / 0917-506-7314
Sun Double Unlimited: 0922-893-8944 / 0922-346-8776
National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline:
(02) 989-USAP (989-8727)
Center for Family Ministries (for spiritual counseling):
Landline: (02) 426-4289 to 92
Ateneo Bulatao Center:
Landine: (02) 426-5982
Online resources for mental health and suicide prevention: