State of emergency declared in Laguna town as lambanog poisoning death toll rises to 11

Robie de Guzman   •   December 23, 2019   •   563

MANILA, Philippines – The local government of Rizal town in Laguna on Monday declared a statement of emergency after several individuals were killed and hundreds were rushed to hospitals for alleged alcohol poisoning.

Rizal Vice Mayor Antonio Aurelio said the declaration aims to gain access to the local financial assistance fund to help individuals affected by the incident.

Based on the report of Rizal Municipal Health Office, eleven people were confirmed dead, another in critical condition, while more than 300 others were being monitored Sunday after imbibing coconut wine or locally known as lambanog.

“Based doon sa findings ng PGH, sa ilan na dinala doon ay may nag-positive sa methanol intoxification,” John Michael Gangay, administrative officer of Rizal Health Office said.

The affected individuals allegedly attended different holiday parties but all consumed lambanog bought from the same store.

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.

Following the incident, the local government has urged all those who ingested lambanog in the areas to voluntarily seek medical examination.

The sale of lambanog in Rizal town was also suspended.

“Kahit kami nabigla eh. Di namin alam na may mangyayaring ganito sa bayan namin. Tunay na nakakalungkot, pero we are doing our best para ma-extend ang tulong sa aming mga kababayan,” Aurelio said.

The Rizal Police has confiscated the brand of lambanog involved in the incident amid ongoing investigation.

DENR seizes P3.2-M worth of agarwood

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 23, 2020

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has seized 20 kilos or P3.2 million worth of agarwood in two separate operations.

DENR’s Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force (EPETF) and the NBI-Environmental Crime Division conducted operations in Pasig City and Cainta, Rizal last June 8.

Four suspects, identified as Ramil Ong, Bernie Bagay, Rizal Mofar, and Arjhun Gaviola, were arrested for the illegal transportation of the said high-value tree species.

“This clearly sends out the message that the government’s campaign against environmental offenders remains unrelenting despite a pandemic that is wreaking havoc worldwide,” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

The four suspects were charged with violations of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources and Protection Act. They are detained at the NBI detention facility in Manila.

Agarwood is one of the most expensive raw materials used in perfumery, costing at least P160,000 per kilo in the Philippines.

It is extracted from host trees locally known as Lapnisan and Lanete, which are both included in the national list of threatened Philippine plants. —AAC

One of the world’s tallest flowers spotted at Masungi Georeserve in Rizal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 16, 2020

Park rangers at the Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal spotted one of the world’s tallest flowers while doing maintenance work last week.

They saw the 8’7″ tall Amorphophallus rostratus or commonly named as Voodoo Lily after noticing a slightly unpleasant smell when the flower bloomed.

Experts confirmed the native species. An indigenous ranger said they call it ‘biga’ which locals cut and cook the stalk of in boiling water before eating it.

“Amorphophallus species are known as some of the largest flowers in the world by their inflorescence. At least three species of varying sizes have been documented in Masungi,” the post read.

There are 200 known species in tropical and subtropical climates; many like the Amorphophallus rostratus in Masungi are endemic to their localized areas.

The park reiterated the importance of preserving the forest.

“Truly this is another native wonder that must be conserved from quarrying and other harmful activities in our forests and protected areas,” they said. AAC

Tokyo residents welcome end of state of emergency

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

People in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday (May 26) woke up to their first day with loosened social distancing curbs, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for all areas in the country on Monday (May 25).

Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, as well as Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under emergency.

Many residents welcomed the government’s decision to end the emergency, though most said they are still alert for the virus since more people are out on the streets.

“I’m still a bit worried. There may be a second wave of an epidemic so we still need to be alert,” said 45-year-old Naoto Furuki who said the trains were a lot more crowded with commuters this morning.

With the emergency order lifted, Tokyo will move into “stage one” of loosening restrictions, allowing libraries and museums to reopen, and restaurants to stay open until later in the evening. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.

Company employee Daisuke Tominaga is happy that the emergency state is over, saying that the Japanese economy will collapse if businesses and people have to continue to live under restrictions.

“I want to go out drinking and attend concerts,” he said enthusiastically.

Many shops and restaurants have restarted operations since the government began lifting the emergency in rural and suburban areas earlier this month, but some stores remain closed. (Reuters)

(Production: Kim Kyung-Hoon, Akiko Okamoto, Travis Teo)

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