Quezon governor protests reports toxic ‘lambanog’ was province’s product
LUCENA CITY – The governor of Quezon protested reports saying the toxic lambanog, or coconut wine, that had killed several people and sent dozens od others to hospitals was a product of the province.
“The report was malicious,” said Gov. Danilo Suarez.
“The provincial government is very protective of our lambanog industry. We won’t tolerate unscrupulous local producers around,” Suarez said in a phone interview on Wednesday (Dec. 25).
He recalled that when news broke out about the series of deaths of lambanog drinkers, he immediately ordered police to stop the selling of the alcoholic drink in Quezon.
The prohibition was followed with continuous monitoring and inspection of lambanog outlets all over the province.
“I intend to put up testing centers in strategic areas to be manned by competent chemists and professional staff for the immediate results after inspection,” he said.
He said any establishment that would be found selling bootlegged lambanog will be immediately closed and those responsible for the production of the toxic drink are to be brought to justice.
The governor said the bootlegged lambanog was “causing severe damage” on the reputation of pne of the province’s “heritage products” aside from killing people.
Suarez said genuine lambanog is made from the dripping sap, called “tuba,” of the coconut flower.
The sweet and frothy tuba is prepared through a process of natural fermentation and distillation that produces lambanog.
Quezon is a major coconut producing province in the country.
The public information office of Quezon issued a public warning on the danger of drinking lambanog that was not certified by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) after reports on suspected liquor poisoning came out.
“Though the incident may be considered isolated, extreme caution is advised,” said the provincial information office on its Facebook page.
The Quezon PIO also advised the public to buy lambanog only from legitimate sources.
It warned that business establishments selling unlicensed lambanog would be shuttered by local governments.
During the Niyogniyugan festival last August, the provincial government paid tribute to lambanog through the revival of the “tagayan ritual”, an indigenous custom of offering lambanog as a welcome drink to guests.
As of Tuesday (Dec. 24) the Department of Health (DOH) in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), said the death toll had already climbed to 14.
At least three of the victims were drinkers from Candelaria, Quezon.
Citing medical findings, police said the lambanog consumed by the victims had a high content of methanol – which had already been banned as an extender of ethanol or legal alcohol.
Methanol is commonly found in automotive fuel products.
Police tagged coconut wine maker Fred Rey, whose brand “Rey Lambanog”, as the suspected producer of the toxic lambanog.
Rey, who is from San Juan, Batangas, reportedly surfaced and presented himself at the Rizal Municipal Police Station on Monday and denied liability for the deaths.
He argued that he has been selling lambanog for decades without any untoward incident.
Edited by TSB
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.