BY LYN V. RAMO
MANKAYAN, Benguet (263 kms. north of Manila) – Assorted snack goodies dumped along the road near the Tubo bridge in barangay Tabbak here Friday downed more than 100 school children, 57 of whom were hospitalized and were under observation until Sunday.
All from Palatong Elementary School in Upper Mankayan, the school children nauseated, some threw up, with severe stomach ache after eating the goodies that some of them took from a heap of garbage, which unidentified informants claimed, was dumped between 6:30 and 7:30 on Friday morning.
At around 12:00 noon, Mankayan police received a text message from Anglican priest Fr. Jonathan Obar relaying a plea for help from a teacher of the said school. Responding policemen rushed most of the pupils to the Lepanto hospital and the nearby rural health unit, where they were treated for cramps, vomiting and headache.
Police investigation yielded more than 11 sackful of assorted candies, wafers, cheap chips and frozen pops, including nata de coco, cornicks and green peas which are normally sold in village stores throughout the country.
“These were dumped along with garbage emptied near the road,” Police Senior Inspector Fernando S. Botangen told Nordis in an interview on Sunday. He said he has forwarded samples of the hot goods to the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) for testing.
At the time of the interview, 17 were still confined in the mine dispensary and the RHU.
According to the chief of police, “While the goods are legal per se, the manner of disposing of the probably spoiled goods may be improper that whoever dumped it there has to assume responsibility over what happened.”
Police listed down the brand names and manufacturer of each and came up with 22 items in its list. It also displayed samples of these in public utility jeepneys plying different barangays here to warn residents of the hazard that the said goods might be bringing.
In the meantime, local government officials led by Mayor Manalo Galuten formed a task force to monitor the display and sale of the listed items.
Pending investigation results, Botangen disclosed there are ambulant retailers who roam towns in Benguet and come every Sunday to deliver and sell such items collectively called “junk” food. He said, he may place these itinerant business persons under observation. (Northern Dispatch/posted by (Bulatlat.com))