GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – A group of doctors in Soccsksargen called on health officials and local governments to take mental health more seriously following the grisly murder of two toddlers in Glan, Sarangani, over the weekend.
Dr. Renato Diagan, the head of a group running the Diagan Cooperative Hospital, said on Monday, October 3, that they were worried there would be more violence unless the government puts in place interventions to address mental health issues.
Diagan said the problem is that mental health gets considered a pressing concern only when incidents such as the Glan murders take place.
The murders were blamed on a man suffering from schizophrenia hacked to death his two-year-old son and four-year-old niece, a crime that sent chills in Sarangani and neighboring areas in the region.
The man, identified as 30-year-old Jovel Pondong, hurt three others – his sister-in-law, a one-week-old nephew, and a seven-year-old niece in Tapal in the village of Datalbukay in Glan town.
Glan town police chief Lieutenant Colonel Geovanni Ladeo said Pondong was subsequently shot dead by his cousin.
“The government must give utmost attention to the growing problem of mental disorder among citizens,” Diagan said.
In 2018, then-president Rodrigo Duterte signed the landmark Mental Health Act which was hailed by mental health advocates because the Philippines was one of the few nations that didn’t have such a law until that year.
The 2018 law recognizes citizens’ access to mental health services as a fundamental right and outlines the government’s responsibility in promoting the mental well-being of citizens.
The measure also seeks to ensure the delivery of the government’s psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic services in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals.
Diagan said it was disturbing that addressing mental health concerns usually takes a back seat in national and local government programs, and it takes incidents such as the October 1 machete attack in Glan for the problem to be in the consciousness of officials and the public.
Police said Pondong first killed his toddler-son Botyok with a machete, and then barged into the house of his brother and hacked everyone inside.
Ladeo said Pondong killed another toddler – his niece Arriana Dala Pondong – and badly hurt his 26-year-old sister-in-law Rose Ann and her baby Vincent and daughter Ashley.
Ladeo said all the survivors suffered gaping wounds on their faces, hands, and torsos.
Villager Ricardo Almodivar Fuentes said Pondong moved with his toddler son to the predominantly B’laan village and stayed in his brother’s house barely a month ago.
Pondong’s mother, Jessica, said her son’s wife left him with their son a year ago, after he hacked and wounded her.
Police said Pondong had a mental health problem, and he was under medication.
Lieutenant Ian Hasper Garcinez, Glan police deputy chief for operations, said Ponding missed taking his medicine the day he attacked his kin.
“This should serve as a lesson to all,” Gazines said.
Corporal Lue Ripdos said Pondong’s cousin, Boy Pondong, turned himself in after shooting his cousin dead with a homemade gun.
“There was blood all over when I got in the house,” Boy recounted.
He said he subsequently shot his machete-wielding cousing when he saw him emerging and charging from a vegetable patch. Boy said Pondong then threatened him, saying, “This is where we end everything!” – Rappler.com