MANILA — A fourth patient died after drinking "lambanog" or palm wine in Candelaria, Quezon during the Christmas festivities, an official said Thursday.
The victim Fernando Balmes Aguilar, 53, was rushed to the hospital on Saturday after drinking the wine and complaining of difficulty in breathing, said Mayor Macario Boongaling.
In total, at least 17 people died after allegedly drinking the wine in Calabarzon, said Health Undersecretary Erik Domingo.
The Candelaria government is waiting for the results of the Food and Drug Administration's test of the wine samples sent last Monday, Boongaling said.
The wine "Rey Lambanog" had high amounts of methanol, which the FDA prohibits from being used as an extender of ethanol or legal alchohol, Rizal Mayor Vener Muñoz earlier claimed.
Both Rizal and Candelaria temporarily banned the sale of lambanog after the deaths.
Much of the coconut wine in the market is manufactured by locals in backyard operations. The government had previously warned against selling unregistered alcoholic beverages.
Methanol can cause blindness and death, said Jose Jonas Del Rosario, spokesman for the capital's Philippine General Hospital. Some manufacturers keep the methanol in, because it means greater volume and more profit, he added.
Last year, more than 10 people died from drinking coconut wine, samples of which were found by the government regulator to have high methanol content.
With reports from Andrew Bernardo, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse