MARK Adrian Carl Araniel was last seen playing at the sea wall in Barangay Suba, Cebu City last Friday afternoon.
The eight-year-old was fond of watching the fiddler crabs that abound in the area.
Yesterday, his dead body was discovered in a sewer near the sea wall.
His aunt Minda Araniel, 33, told Sun.Star Cebu they often warned him not to go there because he didn’t know how to swim.
“He always went there with kids his age. They usually numbered around six. He would normally heed our warnings, but not that day. He was there alone for hours before he went missing. He was never like that,” Minda said in Cebuano.
His grandmother, a fish vendor, dries her fish near the sea wall. She regularly checked on him when he played in the area. He would obey her when she told him to go home.
But last Friday, she was not there because she was not feeling well.
The boy’s father Rodelio, 38, said he went home to check if his three children had lunch after he fixed his neighbor’s plumbing.
“When I arrived, I asked my eldest where Adrian was. He told me he (Adrian) already had his lunch. We assumed he was just playing online games at the internet cafe,” he said in Cebuano.
Rodelio said he got worried when his son was still not home at 2 p.m.
He informed his wife Elsie, 32, a volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity, that their son had gone missing.
“We immediately went around looking. I’ve lost count on how many times I went round the sea wall, internet cafes and streets. We even reached as far as Colon and Barangays Inayawan, Pardo, Labangon, Basak San Nicholas and Pari-an, but to no avail,” he said.
The couple, along with some of their friends, went to police stations to file a blotter report but they were told that their son couldn’t be considered missing as it had not been 24 hours since he was last seen.
They were advised to print pictures of the child along with details about him and post these around as soon as the 24-hour period was up.
“I really wanted to report it earlier in the barangay but they looked busy because the new parish priest was arriving. They’ve also deployed most of the barangay tanods already for the event so I thought of reporting it later. We’ve also received reports of a child found in Alumnos but it was not him because the child was only three,” Rodelio said.
Elsie said barangay personnel didn’t announce her son’s disappearance on the megaphone until around 7.pm., adding that no one from the barangay joined their search party.
“I even planned to rent a boat and paddle it myself just to find my son. I didn’t care if it would cost a fortune as long as I could find him,” she said in Cebuano.
The couple received reports at 5 a.m. yesterday that a body of a boy was found in a sewer meters from where Adrian was last seen.
“I immediately ran to the area and when I saw a little glimpse of the blue striped polo shirt the kid in the sewer was wearing, I felt my knees weakened as those were the very same clothes my son was last seen wearing,” Rodelio said.
After fishing out his son’s body, he discovered that Adrian’s head was bruised.
A friend helped him rush Adrian to the hospital but Rodelio said he knew his son was dead.
Adrian was pronounced dead on arrival at the Cebu City Medical Center.
He was supposed to start Grade 3 at the Pasil Elementary School tomorrow.
Minda said personnel from the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO) went to the barangay when they heard about the incident.
She said the CCDRRMO questioned the barangay for failing to inform it and for not recording the incident in the barangay logbook.
“They (CCDRRM0) also wanted to know why the barangay did not organize a search-and-rescue party upon learning that my nephew was missing. They said a missing person is always a top priority,” she said.
Sun.Star Cebu tried to contact the CCDRRMO to no avail.