Tainted water deaths reach 12

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

ALAMADA town in North Cotabato is now under a state of calamity after the death toll in an outbreak traced to the town’s water has reached 12 with 214 more being treated in the hospital for diarrhea and vomiting.

Vice Mayor Samuel Alim said those affected come from Barangays Lower Dado, Upper Dado, Mapurok, Pigkawaran, New Leon, and Tirin-Tirin.

The victims claim having drunk water from springs.


Dr. Mary Joy Posada, medical chief of the Alamada Provincial Community Hospital, said they are still waiting for the result on water sampling by the Integrated Provincial Health Office of North Cotabato.

Northern Cotabato Governor Emmylou "Lala" Taliño-Mendoza has tasked Integrated Provincial Health Office Chief Dr. Eva Rabaya to head the investigation into the “outbreak”.

At the provincial board level, Board member Aying Pagal, chair of the committee on health, is heading the inquiry.

Cholera is suspected, but residents are more convinced that their water source has been poisoned by chemical run-off from rice fields and banana plantations, which abound in the area.

This suspicion is shared by an environmental group on Wednesday.

"While the local officials in the area say that it is a cholera outbreak, we cannot discount the probability that it may also be due to chemical poisoning particularly if these villages were using pesticides in their rice farms," said Interface Development Interventions executive director Ann Fuertes, who is also a Go Organic Mindanao member, in reaction to reports of suspected chemical poisoning in five villages in Alamada.

"The run-off is the movement of water along the surface. In times of heavy rain, the rainwater can pick up soil and chemical particles from the rice paddies treated with herbicides or pesticides and carry it to streams and wells," she said.

She said the pesticides currently being used by Filipino rice farmers are very toxic.

Common symptoms of pesticide poisoning include nausea, vomiting and intense diarrhea, she said.

"This is why Go Organic Mindanao is pushing for more organic rice farms because organic farming does not use dangerous and toxic chemicals. Organic methods rely on natural nutrients and concoctions to control pests and diseases without endangering the environment and the lives of the farmers," Fuertes said. (Sun.Star Davao)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 16, 2014.

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