By Jonathan Hicap
The number of prisoners who became ill with diarrhea caused by suspected food poisoning at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa has ballooned to 1,166 from 910.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, accompanied by Director General Benjamin Delos Santos of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Justice Undersecretary Reynante Orceo, visited the NBP Hospital inside the Maximum Security Compound Monday afternoon to get an update on the status of the victims.
According to the NBP Hospital, as of May 29, of the 151 prisoners confined at the facility, 13 were discharged on May 28. The hospital has a bed capacity of 500 with 11 doctors and 67 nurses and staff serving 24,586 NBP prisoners.
Health and sanitation personnel from the Department of Health and the Muntinlupa City government also inspected, examined and took samples of the food and water inside the NBP Maximum Security Compound and stool from the affected prisoners.
The DOJ and BuCor have launched an investigation to know the cause of the incident.
“We are looking into the cause of these diarrheal cases. Hopefully, we can have the results of the tests done by the DOH to know what caused the illness,” said Aguirre who also brought 2,000 bottles of Gatorade and 4,000 bunches of saba banana for the prisoners.
While the DOJ has yet to pinpoint the cause of the food poisoning, Aguirre said reports reaching him said the incident stemmed from the milkfish (bangus) served to prisoners.
Delos Santos earlier said the “proximate cause (of the food poisoning) is food served by the caterer Thursday evening.”
Aguirre ruled out the suspension of the services of the private catering company since “up to now, we have not pinpointed the true cause of the illness.”
According to Delos Santos, each NBP inmate is allotted a daily food allowance of P60 or P20 per meal.
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