Son of milk tea shop owner denies role in poisoning
LLOYD Abrigo, the lone suspect in the milk tea poisoning case in Manila, has denied any role in the crime that killed his father and a customer at their family’s milk tea shop two months ago, saying the charges are based on “conjectures and suspicions” alone.
In his counter-affidavit, executed before Assistant City Prosecutor Dennis Aguila on Tuesday, Abrigo denied putting oxalic acid into the flavoring used in making milk tea, saying that he did not touch it when he dropped by the family-owned Ergo Cha milk tea store on April 8, the day before the poisoning.
“On April 8, 2015, at around 9 o’clock in the evening, my father and I went to the Ergo Cha store. I was there only to concoct new milk tea flavors such as milk oolong tea and oolong tea,” he said.
Abrigo said he only brewed tea for his personal use, bringing with him an empty plastic bottle and Mentos brand. He used ingredients from a refrigerator inside the store to make his own tea.
“While I was at the store, I did not touch or use the Hokkaido powder flavor since it was not one of the ingredients used in my concoctions. I did not even make a black tea to form milk tea,” he said.
“Hokkaido” was the flavor of the milk tea that the victims, Abrigo’s father William, Suzaine Dagohoy and Arnold Aydalla, drank on April 9, before they immediately collapsed and before William and Dagohoy died.
He noted that tests by the Food and Drug Administration and an independent chemical analytical firm found out that the Hokkaido powder flavor contained the highest amount of oxalic acid and that the milk tea solution that the victims drank had a small amount of oxalic acid.
“Those test reports confirm that only the milk tea and the Hokkaido powder flavor had oxalic acid and there is no relation to what I had done with the other oolong tea leaves and Mentos candies. Reason dictates that since I have done nothing with the milk tea and Hokkaido powder flavor, I could not be considered to have tampered with those items,” Abrigo added.
He added that he disposed of the mixtures he prepared during that night, after he “rejected” its taste. The following day, when the poisoning happened, Abrigo said that he was at their house and nowhere near Ergo Cha.
“In short, the allegations of the witnesses and investigative reports of the officers were all based on conjectures and suspicions which could not be the bases of facts sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that I am probably guilty of the crime of murder that has been committed. The only fact that the witnesses have proven and I have admitted is that I went to the store on April 8, 2015 at around 9 in the evening. Nothing more, nothing less,” Abrigo said.
Abrigo’s counter affidavit also includes an attachment, which is a purported sworn statement written and executed by Rose-Ann Limpahan, a trainee staff at Ergo Cha. The statement, which was undated and unsigned, claimed that she did not see Abrigo putting anything in the milk tea mixture that he was making on the night of April 8.
“I did not see (Lloyd) putting anything in the milk tea mixture he was cooking, except nata de coco” Limpahan wrote in Filipino, in uppercase letters. At the same time, she said that another shop employee named Garnacio was preparing a milk tea mixture that would be used the next day.
Hazel Naredo, Abrigo’s counsel, said that Limpahan’s affidavit bolstered Abrigo’s claim that he had nothing to do with the poisoning.
“It shows that he did not place anything in there. He had no chance to place any acid in the solution,” she said.
Naredo explained that Limpahan sent the statement to their camp on or around April 15.
“This was before the police picked her up and her story changed,” she said, referring to the statement she gave to investigators claiming that she was only forced to give a statement to the family. SFM
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