By Ben R. Rosario
The family of Patricia “Ica” Policarpio, the teenager who went missing for 48 hours on Monday, has vehemently denied that her disappearance was a prank triggered supposedly by her participation the “48 Hour Challenge”, a vague Facebook game that has reportedly been trending on social media since it was launched over three months ago.
Speaking as the family spokesperson, Bea Policarpio, Ica’s elder sister, issued a public statement Tuesday night, revealing information about the disappearance four days before Christmas day.
“Firstly, I would like to clarify that I have learned first hand from my sister Ica that she had no knowledge whatsoever of any ‘48-hour challenge’ (supposedly trending) in other parts of the world. She did not join any such challenge. Her disappearance was not a prank,” Bea stated.
She added: “My sister Ica disappeared from home last Thursday night, December 21, out of deep emotional distress.”
According to her, the factors for Ica’s condition are “numerous and honestly, private.”
The statement was issued after the social media went abuzz over speculations that pointed to Ica’s alleged participation in the so-called “Facebook 48-hour Challenge”.
The news media sought members of the family for clarification, prompting the Policarpios to issue a press statement Tuesday night.
The social media triggered speculations indicated that Ica had accepted the Facebook 48 Hour Challenge of mysteriously disappearing for 48 hours.
Points are allegedly won by the sheer number of updates, shares and comments on the bogus disappearing act.
Ica had her loved ones and friends worried when she suddenly vanished from a coffee shop in Muntinlupa City where she was supposed to be picked by her father, Rufino and Joan Policarpio III.
She resurfaced on December 23, but details about it have been sketchy, thus, triggering the unwanted speculations.
Bea defended her sister from internet bashers, pointing out that Ica “does not deserve our blind judgment and hate.”
“She is only 17 years old, still a child. Please, we only beg that you do not judge her and that you help safeguard her future,” she said.
The eldest of the three Policarpio children stressed: “If there’s anything positive that we hope can result from this experience, it is to raise awareness about the stigma of mental health and the growing culture of hate which unfortunately exists in our country’s cyberspace, and collective mind space.”
“If anything, this hate culture is a desperate call for help. Let us answer this call with nothing but love, as difficult as this maybe,” she added.
In the statement, Bea also revealed that her sister is still being “evaluated medically”.
“Be assured that we are doing everything we can to make sure that she receives the medical attention and emotional support that she needs,” Bea said.
The Policarpio family also expressed deep gratitude to all who helped and sympathized with them, including the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation” whom Rufino called to help solve the missing person puzzle.
Policarpio is a corporate lawyer and a respected and well-loved Quezon City civic leader, having led the peace president’s batch of Rotary International District 3784 as its District Governor.