Saturday, February 13, 2010

Teen runaway felt ‘guilty’ over airport misadventure

THE 12-YEAR-OLD runaway, who was caught boarding a Manila-bound plane at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), was so traumatized by the incident that he would literally jump in fright whenever he sees someone entering a room.

“It looked like he felt guilty for what he did. When he sees someone entering a room, he would run away and hide,” said his social worker Romulo Velasquez in Cebuano.

Airport personnel are under investigtion over Richard's (not his real name) ease in bypassing security in order to board the plane.

But Richard has bigger concerns in mind: how his father would feel about his misadventure.

When Richard learned that airport personnel would be penalized for his little misadventure, he got worried.

He told Velasquez that his father may scold him and won't take him back.

His father would come to Cebu City within a month to bring him home, Velasquez said.

While authorities are working an arrangement to bring Richard home, social workers said there were signs the boy wanted to escape from their education center.

Richard wanted to look for his mother in Manila after she left his family a few years back.

He decided to make his break after he learned that his father, who promised to bring him back home to Eastern Samar, broke his arm in a construction accident.

The decision was firmed up after the discovery that he stole P1,000 from a staffer.

Richard headed to Cebu City with his 13-year-old brother last June in hopes that they would go to Manila to look for their mother.

Instead they ended up in the Pari-an Drop-in Center. His father took his brother home last November.

Richard initially avoided his father and returned to the center a few days earlier.

He studied under the center's alternative education program of the Department of Education (DepEd) but dropped out a few weeks later, citing lack of interest.

Last December, his father vowed to bring Richard back home for Christmas.

But he failed to do so after breaking his arm at the construction site. Social worker Romulo Velasquez said they then noticed Richard's behavior.

“We were surprised because he behaved well. Before, we would always scold him since he wouldn't listen. After his father's accident, he behaved well,” Velasquez said.

Due to his good behavior, Velasquez toured him nearly everywhere including a trip to the MCIA. Richard's father later told the center that he would fetch his son on Feb. 1.

“His father sold coconuts so he could buy fare to fetch his son. But his father wasn't paid for his coconuts, which depressed the kid further,” Velasquez said.

It was at 10 p.m that Richard left the center for the airport.

He later told Velasquez that he asked for directions, toting a knapsack filled with clothes.

“He knew that entering the airport one needs to be clean that's why he was clean-looking and the airport personnel didn't mistake him for being a runaway,”

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