DAVAO CITY: An independent investigation will be conducted by a religious group that was mentioned during the course of the investigation into the food poisoning cases in the Caraga region.
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, has dispatched a team to Surigao del Sur.
Quiboloy’s lawyer, Charmalou Aldevera, admitted to the media that the seven suspects arrested by the police were members of their congregation. She, however, refused to give any more details about the incident pending results of the investigation.
Aldevera was referring to the seven alleged vendors of the tainted durian and mangosteen candies who were arrested earlier this week in connection to the tainted candies that downed at least 1,925 individuals, mostly students, from Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
The suspects have been formally charged with violations of Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines; Replublic Act 10611 or the Food Safety Act of the Philippines; and reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries.
The group’s leader, she said, is in the United States at this time.
“The team had been advised to coordinate and cooperate with the authorities in Surigao,” Aldevera said. “Pastor Quiboloy’s thoughts, all our thoughts, are with the victims, especially the schoolchildren.”
The followers of Quiboloy are known to sell foodstuff as part of their fundraising for the group.
Senior Supt. Aaron Aquino, deputy commander for operations of the Police XI Regional Command, said the police will conduct its own investigation.
“The group of Quiboloy will be investigated. I will personally seek their explanation,” he said.
In Davao City, health officials are conducting tests on the ingredients found from the factory of the candymaker Wendy’s Delicious Durian and Mangosteen Candies.
Dr. Jerry Irizzari, the provincial director of the Surigao del Sur health office, said around 100 patients are still confined in different hospitals in Surigao.
“From our assessment, although this is not yet conclusive pending the results of the lab exams, the incident was more bacterial than chemical,” he said.