Joey de Leon comment ‘saddening,’ but Tito Sotto appeals for understanding
“Unfortunate and saddening” was how Senator Risa Hontiveros described television host and actor Joey de Leon’s controversial remarks about depression he made during an episode of the noontime show “Eat Bulaga” on Thursday.
But Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III came to the defense of De Leon, his co-host in the show, saying the latter might not be aware of the situation of people suffering from depression.
“Mr. Joey De Leon’s remarks, that depression is something that those who suffer from it ‘make up’ or ‘do to themselves,’ are most unfortunate and saddening,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Friday.
“It is doubly saddening that of all people, it is our artists who should be most sensitive, and more informed, about the suffering of others. That Mr. De Leon is one of our most multi-talented artists makes his remarks even more disheartening,” Hontiveros said.
The senator, who pushed for the Philippine Mental Health Act of 2016 to become a law, stressed that doctors recognize depression as a mental health problem. She also emphasized that October is mental health month.
Sought for comment, Sotto said in a text message: “Perhaps they are not aware of how serious the situation is on the issue of mental health.”
Asked if De Leon and fellow host Jose Manalo should apologize for making the offensive remarks, he said: “Malamang (Maybe) they will. I have not attended EB (Eat Bulaga) kasi (because) we are super busy with the government budget and the tax reform law. I’ll see them tomorrow.”
During a segment of Eat Bulaga on Thursday, De Leon and Manalo dismissed depression as an illness merely made up by the person suffering from it.
“‘Yung depression gawa-gawa lang ‘yan… Gawa nila sa sarili nila (Depression is just made up. They put it upon themselves),” De Leon said.
Manalo, meanwhile, said: “Oo, dinedepress lang nila ang sarili niyo tapos nagkakasakit. Kaya nga ‘yung stress, diyan nag-uumpisa yun (Yes, they make themselves depressed and then they get sick. It begins with stress).”
Their co-host and actress Maine Mendoza then spoke up. “Uy pero hindi biro yan ha. Siyempre maraming nakakaranas ng ganun lalo na sa mga kabataan kaya dapat ‘pag may nakakaranas ng ganun, kailangan natin bigyan natin ng suporta (It’s not a joke. A lot experience it, especially the youth, which is why we should give them support).”
But De Leon persisted, “Huwag n’yo suportahan. Gawa-gawa lang nila iyon…Nagpapasosyal lang (Don’t support it. It’s made up… They’re trying to act rich).
“‘Pag mayaman, depression. ‘Pag mahirap, wala, wala nang pag-asa sa buhay mo (When you’re rich, you have depression. When you’re poor, you don’t have hope in life)!” he said as the audience laughed.
De Leon and Manalo’s comments offended many, including famous personalities who took them to task for making “insensitive” and “ignorant” remarks about the mental illness.
Hontiveros then added that the society should instead help, not judge those suffering from depression.
“We should take steps to move forward as a society, never backward. Tulungan po natin ang isa’t isa na magmalasakit sa ating kapwa Pilipino. At kung hindi natin naiintindihan ang kanilang paghihirap, huwag natin silang husgahan (Let’s help each other show compassion to our fellow Filipinos. If we do not understand their struggle, let’s not judge them),” she said. /idl