NEARLY 33 hours after he was reported missing, the lifeless body of a 16-year-old athlete was found floating in the waters off Cabahug shipyard in Barangay Opao, Mandaue City.
Police said Joseph Durano Lumapas, a junior high school student at the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, jumped off the Marcelo Fernan Bridge at around 2 a.m. Saturday, August 17, 2019. He was found dead around 11 a.m. Sunday, August 18.
Despite the absence of any sign of struggle or foul play, investigators said they would still continue the investigation.
“As of now, we are still talking to his family. It was an apparent suicide. In the CCTV footage, you can see that he was sad. He disembarked from a motorcycle and walked slowly towards the middle of the bridge where he jumped,” Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) Station 5 Chief Aldrin Villacampa said.
Lumapas was last seen at the Banilad Town Center in Cebu City around 1:30 a.m on Saturday. He was wearing a black shirt, dark jogging pants and a pair of white rubber shoes.
Operatives of the Investigation and Detective Management Branch confirmed that Lumapas jumped off the bridge at around 2 a.m. Saturday based on footage from the bridge’s closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera.
MCPO Director Jonathan Abella said Opao residents reported that they found a body that matched the description of Lumapas around 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Villacampa said the body was first identified as Lumapas by his football coach Julius Tapia. His family later confirmed his identity.
Lumapas, a football player, was featured by SunStar Cebu in 2018 as he represented the country in an international tournament in U16 category in Surabaya, Indonesia. He was the lone representative from Cebu who made it to the pool of 23 players from different cities in the country.
Lumapas’ family publicly sought asssistance, through a Facebook post, to locate his whereabouts.
The said post containing Lumapas’ description, photo and his family’s contact numbers were shared by various media outlets online.
Since Sunday night, the MCPO had deployed a mobile patrol team to monitor the two bridges to prevent suicidal persons from jumping into the Mactan Channel.
“We will deploy anti-suicide police officers on motorcycles. They will be stationed in the middle of the bridge from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. While they are on standby, their motorcycle blinkers should be turned on to signify that there is a police presence at the bridges. In the morning, we will also assign personnel who will monitor the bridges from time to time,” he said.
Last July 23, a 16-year-old girl, who may have had problems with her family or lover, also jumped off the Marcelo Fernan Bridge.
Meanwhile, plans to upgrade security cameras at the two Mactan-Mandaue bridges will be discussed further in the next Mactan-Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB) meeting, said Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, following Lumapas’ death.
“First of all, I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to (the) bereaved family. I pray that God give them strength during this most difficult time. In our earlier MCBMB meeting, there was a proposal to upgrade our CCTV system to be more reactive and responsive in real time to behavioral patterns of all those crossing our bridges. We will be more fully apprised of this in the next meeting,” Garcia told SunStar Cebu in a text message.
The governor, who sits as chairperson of the MCBMB, said she will also be expecting a “full report as to how our monitoring system and those charged to react accordingly have complied with their responsibilities” during the board’s next meeting. Aside from discussing interventions with the MCBMB, Garcia said she will also take up measures to monitor behavioral patterns among students to prevent untoward incidents with the Provincial School Board next week.
The governor sits as co-chairperson of the school board alongside the provincial schools superintendent.
Tawag Paglaum Centro Bisaya, a 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis intervention hotline is accessible through numbers 0939-937-5433; 0939-936-5433 and 0927-654-1629. (WBS, RTF)