DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The manufacturer of the candy that downed over a thousand people in Surigao del Sur apologized to the victims on Saturday, July 11, but stood by the quality of their items.
Wendy Aquino made the apology on behalf of Wendy's Durian Candy – the brand cited by food poisoning victims in 6 towns and a city in Surigao del Sur – which is manufactured by her family.
"Para sa mga nalason, pasensiya talaga kasi hindi namin 'yan ginagawa. May takot po kami sa Panginoon (We're really sorry to those who were poisoned. We would never do that. We have fear in God)," she said in an interview with Rappler at their manufacturing site in Davao City.
Her mother, Janet Aquino, said she is ready for any investigation even as she maintained that they had never received any complaints about their products during their years of operation.
"I am open for investigation," Aquino said.
Aquino said in the interview that days before the incident, she sold a big volume of candies to John Dequilla, one of the vendors arrested by police over the poisoning incident on Friday. But she maintained that the products they sold were of good quality.
She said that on July 7, Dequilla called her to order 300 bags of 100-piece packs of candies.
"He told me that he ran short of stocks and we need to send immediately to Tandag Terminal so we sent his order on July 8 through a public bus," she said in the vernacular.
She said while Dequilla has been a client for the past two years, it was the first time that he asked her to send his order to Tandag City.
Aquino said she was surprised when she got a call from Surigao on Friday at about 11 am, informing her of the incident.
"I called Dequilla to inquire about the problem but his phone cannot be reached and until now we cannot contact him," she said.
Aquino said the candy packs she saw on news reports were apparently repacked, but carried cut-up portions of their product label.
No FDA certificate
Wendy's Durian Candy has been operating for 6 years but has yet to secure a certificate from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Debbie Legaspi, supervisor of FDA XI.
Legaspi and her team collected samples of Wendy's products at the manufacturing site on Saturday afternoon, to be sent to the laboratory for examination. She said the test results may be released by Monday, July 13.
They were joined by authorities from the provincial and regional health offices, Davao city health office, and Talomo police.
The Aquinos manufacture candies at the ground floor of their home in Davao City.
A police report identified the arrested vendors as Junnil Martinez, John Oben, Joel Pasa, Richard Rivera Jr, Martinez Bocaycay, Genelyn Pasa, Junnel Teriote, John Dequilla, and Henryto Amoguis. Three more vendors, whose names have not been released, are now under police custody.
Police also seized a white Mitsubishi L-300 FB Deluxe van registered under the name of Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ based in Davao.
Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel said that about 1,350 persons who ingested the candies suffered vomiting, nausea, and extreme abdominal pain and had to get treatement in various hospitals in the province.