Laguna town under state of emergency as alcohol poisoning death toll climbs

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 23 2019 10:48 AM | Updated as of Dec 23 2019 11:46 AM

MANILA (UPDATE)- The town of Rizal in Laguna has been placed under a state of emergency, Mayor Vener Muñoz said Monday after several were killed and hundreds were rushed to hospitals due to alcohol poisoning.

Muñoz said he declared a state of emergency so that the town can gain access to financial assistance.

Eleven people were confirmed dead while at least 200 others were hospitalized on Sunday after drinking palm liquor, more commonly known as lambanog.

"Para makakuha ng tulong pinansiyal sa aking bayan. Pansamantala ako nagastos eh sa dami niyan hindi naman ako mayaman," Muñoz said.

(I declared a state of emergency so that my town can receive financial aid. In the meantime, I am paying for all the expenses but I'm not rich.)

The victims came from different holiday parties but all bought liquor from the same store.

Following the alcohol poisoning, Muñoz said the local government has suspended the sale of lambanog.

One critical patient has been placed in the intensive care unit of the Philippine General Hospital and will undergo dialysis, the hospital's spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario told radio DZMM.

Forty-three patients are experiencing symptoms after drinking lambanog, while 17 others who also drank the alcoholic beverage are being monitored.

The youngest of the patients was aged 13, while the oldest was 75, Del Rosario said.

Hundreds others were transferred to East Avenue Medical Center, Rizal Medical Center or were brought to provincial hospitals, he added.

The alcoholic drink should only have less than a percent of methanol content, according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officer-in-charge Eric Domingo.

"Pag mali ang pagpproduce ng alak, imbis na ethanol ang nagagawa, methanol po ang nagiging produkto," he told radio DZMM.

The FDA is investigating the brand of the liquor which Domingo said does not seem to be registered with the agency.

Del Rosario urged the public to immediately go to a hospital should they experience vomiting, stomach pain, and dimming eyesight.

"Yung methanol nakakabulag, nanghihina ka. Minsan po hindi nila iisipin dahil ang tingin nila hangover lang o effect lang talaga ng alcohol," he said.

"Ang isang napakaimportante ay kung iinom kayo ng alcohol dapat alam niyo kung saan yung source, lalo na po yung lambanog."

-report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News