Pain lingers for boy’s mom, 14 years after airport blast

AFTER 14 years, 61-year-old Arline Rasay still remembers 19-year-old Kenneth as if it were yesterday.

Kenneth died, along with 21 others, when an explosion ripped through the waiting shed area across the arrival area of the Davao Airport.

Not only was it the day she lost her son. It was also her birthday.

The local government is still taking care of 23 students of dependents hurt or killed by the two bombings happened a month apart from each other, the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) said.

In an interview, CSSDO head Ma. Luisa Bermudo said that the local government has faithfully taken care of the victims of the deadly blasts 14 years ago.

Bermudo made the statement during the simple annual commemoration rites held at the ground zero of the incident at the old airport in Barangay Sasa, Buhangin District last Mar. 4.

Representatives from the local government lit candles and offered flowers at the blast site in front of the old airport.

The event is commemorated annually, with preparations already being made for next month’s memorial at the Sasa Wharf.

The old Davao International Airport, which was used before the Francisco Bangoy International Airport was in operations, was bombed in Mar. 2003.

The incident killed 22 and injured 155 others.

Around one month later, another blast killed 16 and injured 45 at the passenger waiting area of Sasa wharf.

Bermudo said that there have been scores of graduates that the local government assisted throughout the years from different private schools.

The local government assists victims of catastrophic events such as bombings through the CSSDO in partnership with existing scholarship programs such as the Educational Benefit Systems Unit/Scholars on Tertiary Education Program (EBSU/STEP).

Bermudo said that there have been patients who gave back the favor by working for the local government.

“We have former scholars now working in my department,” she said, while there are others working in other City Hall departments.

Meanwhile, Rasay said she has moved on, but she will not forget her child.

The local government covered the burial expenses of the Ateneo Mass Communication student. He always wanted to be a reporter, his mother said. Had he survived, Kenneth would have been the one to report on the commemoration last Saturday.

Posted in under_HEADLINES2