Police eye negligence raps against producer of ‘deadly’ lambanog

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 23) — Authorities are looking at filing negligence charges against the manufacturer of lambanog (coconut wine) that supposedly killed at least 10 people and led to the hospitalization of 300 others in Rizal town in Laguna.

Police said they may file negligence resulting in multiple homicide and physical injuries charges against the lambanog manufacturer, who police said has the required permits to operate.

Sa ngayon talagang tinitignan po namin source ng lambanog ‘yung kay Fred Rey talagang pinanggalingan sa San Juan, Batangas, at ‘yun po pinagaaralan ngayon,” Rizal police chief PCapt. Lindley Tibuc said Monday.

[Translation: Now we’re looking at Fred Rey who is the source of the lambanog from San Juan, Batangas, and that’s what we’re studying now.]

The victims’ families, however, could not be consoled.

Napakasakit po sa akin, siyempre, Pasko po, dapat sama-sama kami ngayon wala na siya,” said Raymunda Urriquia, the wife of 61-year-old Luiz Urriquia, who was among those who died after consuming the lambanog.

Food and Drug Administrator (FDA) Officer-in-Charge and Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo has said that based on clinical tests, the victims were poisoned due to the methanol in the lambanog they drank.

Laguna has banned the selling of lambanog in the province, while Rizal town has declared a state of emergency so it can reach into emergency funds to aid the victims’ families.

Samples of the coconut wine were also gathered by the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the alleged poisoning.

Domingo stressed the importance of proper fermentation and production of coconut wine to prevent poisoning. He said when it undergoes the correct process, it will produce ethanol alcohol. If the proper production is not enforced, it will produce poisonous methanol alcohol.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.