Acting Davao mayor orders probe into durian candy poisoning
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte on Friday night, July 10, ordered an urgent investigation into the reported "durian candy" poisoning which downed hundreds of pupils in at least 6 towns and a city in Surigao del Sur.
Duterte, who is Davao's acting mayor from July 4 to 28, asked the City Health Office (CHO) to immediately deploy sanitary inspectors to areas in the city that produce durian candies to determine the cause of the suspected poisoning.
"We are doing everything to get to the bottom of this. We are attending to this with urgency as this involves public health and is imbued with public interest," Duterte said in a statement.
Duterte said he is closely coordinating with officials of the province and the towns where the poisoning reportedly happened.
At least 200 people in the towns of Cagwait and Carrasca suffered from vomiting and dizziness, and were sent to the hospital after they ate durian candy sold to them in the streets. Food poisoning was also reported in the towns of Lianga, San Agustin, Tago, and Marihatag, and the city of Tandag.
Authorities are yet to confirm if anyone died from the suspected poisoning.
"Though Governor Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur has yet to determine the source of the candies, I need to act on it because one of the apprehended vendors is from Davao, and we are famous for producing durian candies," said Duterte.
Two suspects have already been apprehended according to a report Duterte received from the Surigao del Sur Provincial Police Command. They are Genelyn Dorgas Pasa, 26, of Davao City, and Henryto Bitco Amoguis, 21, of Valencia, Bukidnon.
Pasa and Amoguis were caught on the act of selling candies (durian, mango, and mangosteen) at the Special Education Elementary School in Tandag City. The same vendors were believed to have sold candies to other students from Aras-Arasan and Carrascal.
The manufacturer of the concerned durian candy brand went to the Talomo police precinct on Friday to deny involvement in the incident.
Police Senior Inspector Alberto Santillana told Rappler that Janet Kempis Aquino, manufacturer of Wendy's Durian Candy, went to the precinct upon the invitation of authorities.
"She admitted manufacturing the questioned brand of candy pero baka daw matagal na nabili sa kanila pero nag-repack ang mga vendors at hanggang na-expire sa kamay nila kasi 6 months lang daw ang shelf life ng candies nila," Santillana said.
(She admitted manufacturing the questioned brand of candy but he said these may have been bought from them a long time ago, and the vendors just repacked them until they expired while in their possession. The shelf life of their candies is only 6 months.)
Aquino added that many of their clients make bulk purchases. – Rappler.com
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