Milk tea shop owner's son allegedly ordered to 'clean' evidence

By Aie Balagtas See, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 13 2015 08:42 AM | Updated as of Apr 13 2015 09:54 PM

MANILA - Lloyd Abrigo, the son of a teahouse owner tagged in milk tea deaths in Manila, went back to Ergo Cha House and ordered their helper to ''clean'' the evidence after learning that his father died of poisoning on April 9.

The evidence was a pitcher of milk tea mix that Lloyd’s father, William, served the store’s first customers that day, Suzaine Dagohoy and her boyfriend Arnold Aydalla, the Manila Police District (MPD) said yesterday.

William and the couple were rushed to the Ospital ng Sampaloc shortly after drinking milk tea at around 11 p.m. but only Aydalla survived.

Lloyd arrived in the hospital past noon that day. He approached the helper, identified by the alias Raymundo Santos, and casually asked: “What happened?”

Santos told Lloyd that his father died after tasting allegedly poisoned milk tea.

“Lloyd said we should go back to the store. I was surprised because we left Sir (William) in the hospital,” Santos told The STAR.

The helper said Lloyd ordered him to wash the pitcher containing the milk tea. But he failed to do it due to foul smell, prompting Lloyd to clean it himself.

In reviewing the store’s closed-circit television (CCTV) footage, Senior Inspector Melchor Villar and Senior Police Officer 2 Jonathan Bautista of the MPD homicide section found out that Santos and Lloyd went back to the store at 12:12 p.m.

The footage, which was shown to The STAR, shows Lloyd ordering Santos around.

After washing the pitcher and throwing the remaining milk tea in a pail, Lloyd ordered Santos to dispose of the evidence.

Santos brought the white pail out of the store in view of their neighbors on Earnshaw Street in Sampaloc, Manila.

One of the neighbors of the Abrigos, Alex Martinez, witnessed how Lloyd asked Santos to throw the remaining contents of the pitcher.

Santos and Martinez are being considered as witnesses by MPD after their statements jived with the CCTV footage.

The footage shows Lloyd and Santos arriving at 12:12 p.m. Lloyd entered the store first after unlocking the shutter door. The outdoor camera continued to record their movements but the in-house camera was switched off.

“Lloyd turned off the camera inside the store,” Santos said.

The in-house camera was only switched on after Santos threw the remaining milk tea away.

Camera footage also jived with Santos’ earlier statement that Lloyd “mixed something” in Ergo’s kitchen the night before William and Dagohoy died.

Santos said the clear liquid smelled of bleach.

“It was the second time that Sir Lloyd brought something like that in the kitchen,” Santos told The STAR. “I didn’t think it was suspicious until (Arbigo and Dagohoy) died.”

Santos, who has been working for the Abrigos for more than two months, said the first incident happened about a month ago.

Lloyd’s lawyer, Benedicto Buenaventura, said the family will give its side after the wake.
No suspect yet – MPD

MPD director Chief Superintendent Rolando Nana said they are not considering the son of the teahouse owner as a suspect.

“Nobody is a suspect yet and the investigation is still on going until the official report of the FDA comes out,” Nana said.

Reports said the autopsy report conducted by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory showed that the victims died of poisoning.

“We are still looking at all possibilities but we cannot make any conclusion until the FDA released the results of the tests,” Nana said.

Owners of teahouses in Manila admitted that the poisoning incident affected their sales.
Cyanide test out today

The Department of Health (DOH) will release today the results of the cyanide test on milk tea that allegedly caused the death of William and Dagohoy.

Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) chief Nicolas Lutero III said the test is still being validated by the DOH Toxicology Center.

Lutero said they expanded the tests to include presence of pesticide and other poisonous substances in the milk tea.

The FDA focused its test on cyanide based on the sample submitted by the police.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, meanwhile, urged the local government of Manila to conduct sanitary inspection of food outlets in the city to prevent cases of poisoning. – With Rey Galupo, Mayen Jaymalin, Christina Mendez

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