MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the reported incidents on lambanog poisoning in Laguna and Quezon over the holidays, a government official said Friday.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed this is in a message to reporters.
The NBI was ordered to submit its findings immediately.
Around 16 people were killed and hundreds of others were hospitalized after ingesting lambanog or distilled coconut wine.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier revealed that five of the seven samples of lambanog tested positive for high levels of methanol.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said that lambanog poisoning is caused by residual methanol, which in high levels becomes highly toxic for humans.
Methanol is a naturally occurring substance present during the distilling process, that should be separated and removed thereafter, the DOH added.
The symptoms of methanol poisoning include vomiting, stomach pain and dimming eyesight.
The FDA has repeatedly issued warnings to lambanog brewers over its high methanol content, and urged the public to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming the alcohol beverage.
It also advised the public to only buy lambanog brews that are registered with the FDA.
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