COTABATO CITY - The Cotabato City Health Office on Wednesday said the real reason behind the alleged "possession" of around 50 students of Notre Dame Village National High School (NDVNHS) was mass hysteria.
City Health Officer Dr. Marlow Niñal said the students who passed out tested negative for food poisoning, meningitis and encephalitis, which can cause neurologic symptoms.
"So we boiled down to mass hysteria. This was triggered most likely by an event that aggravated their existing fear, so most likely these students may nararamdaman na silang anxiety or fear," Niñal said.
He said the fire and earthquake drills conducted inside the school campus last week may have triggered fear among some of the students.
Eleven students fainted during the conduct of the drills last July 2.
"Some of them, noong nakarinig ng mga sound of sirens ng ambulance or ng fire truck, nagulat siguro sila so they experienced hysteria," Niñal said.
The following day, 24 students also fell ill allegedly due to the evil spirits dwelling in the huge tree inside the school premises.
Just yesterday, July 8, another 20 students were allegedly possessed by evil spirits.
According to Niñal, they will address the anxiety of the students through counseling.
"Yung sinasabi nilang may nakita silang babae, bata...those are hallucination," he said.
He recommended the school administration to psychologically prepare the students when conducting any drill.