Drinking unfiltered water, not food poisoning, should be blamed for the outbreak of diarrhea in the New Bilibid Prison, the national penitentiary's caterer said Wednesday.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre earlier said at least 900 inmates in the New Bilibid Prison suffered from diarrhea over the weekend due to food poisoning.
A survey showed that inmates who had diarrhea said they drank deep well water, Atty. Alvin Navarro, spokesperson of Mang Kiko Catering, said.
In over a decade of catering to over 40,000 inmates in different penitentiaries in the country, a food poisoning incident was never reported because meals from Mang Kiko Catering undergo quality control tests before being served to prisoners, Navarro added.
Documents presented by Mang Kiko Catering to the media showed that the catering company warned the national penitentiary's management from 2010 until 2013 that the water source in the Bilibid tested positive for coliform.
In 2014, prison officials allowed Mang Kiko Catering to produce its own filtered water source, Navarro said.
The catering company's spokesman said they have submitted food samples to the Department of Health and an independent testing agency to see if the meals they prepared were the source of inmates' illness.
Results are expected to be released on Friday.
Most of the affected inmates were from the maximum security compound, but none of them were high-profile inmates, said Aguirre.
Of the total, 109 inmates were confined in hospitals while the rest recovered inside their prison cells.
-with a report from Jerome Lantin, ABS-CBN News.