Anxiety, depression stalk communities struggling with hunger
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — A man attempted jumping to his death from the Abacan Bridge in Angeles City on Sunday because, according to his friends and relatives, he had not been able to feed his family for days due to the ongoing Luzon quarantine against the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Police Pat. Dale Robert Leonardo prevented Jessie Santos from leaping off the bridge’s rail, holding on to him until the man’s relatives arrived.
Leonardo, 32, was manning a post at Barangay Marisol in Angeles when a motorist alerted him of the suicide try.
“I hopped on my motorcycle and drove to where he was. He was already sitting on the rail so I grabbed him by his shorts,” the policeman told the Inquirer by phone.
A student posted videos and photographs of the incident on social media, inspiring acts of kindness for Santos and praises for Leonardo.
“He had been depressed because he had nothing to support and feed his family,” the student said, citing accounts of Santos’ friends and relatives.
Without citing Santos for any violation, Leonardo sent him instead to Rafael Lazatin Medical Center in Angeles because he was trembling.
Santos earns a living by selling junk items. He lives with his family in a shack of used cardboard near the Abacan Bridge. A pink blanket, dulled by dirt, gave the family some sense of privacy.
Leonardo invited others to help the man. “He still looked dazed,” the lawman said.
The Angeles police took in Santos as part of its “Adopt a Family” program, providing him a sack of rice and canned food.
In Zambales province, a man who lived alone in his dwelling of used boxes under a bridge in Subic town was found dead on Monday morning, police said.
The body of the man, later identified as Renato Camales, was found by village watchmen in Barangay Sto. Tomas. Camales died in his shack.
Some residents believed that he starved to death. “There was no one to help him because most of us are in our homes,” one of them told the Inquirer.
—TONETTE OREJAS AND JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT
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