Herbicide-laced rice downs 5 Bulacan family members

By George Trillo

CALUMPIT, Bulacan – Five members of a family here were rushed to the hospital after eating boiled rice laced with herbicide with cops still trying to determine if foul play was involved.
Efifacio Cruz, chairman of Barangay Frances, identified the victims as Feliciano, Perla, Rex, Ruth, and Ramil, all surnamed Ablaza.

Cruz suspects that the herbicide Machete, used to eliminate weeds in rice fields, was deliberately put in the cooked rice.

A relative of the victims, Manuel Ablaza, 17, who cooked the rice, is now in the custody of the municipal social welfare office.

After eating the rice night of August 15, Manuel’s grandparents Feliciano and Perla, uncles Rex and Ramil, and aunt Ruth started vomiting and experienced dizziness and shortness of breath.
Neighbors rushed them to Our Lady of Mercy General Hospital in nearby Pulilan town.

Feliciano, Rex and Ramil are out of danger, while Perla and Ruth are still in critical condition.
Manuel admitted to newsmen he cooked rice for dinner, but denied that he deliberately laced it with the herbicide.

He said his aunt Ruth was with him when he cooked the rice.

The victims’ relatives recalled that more than a week ago, Manuel’s guardians discovered that they lost pieces of jewelry. The teener’s parents are both working abroad.

They only learned that Manuel allegedly took the jewelry when his classmates reported that he gave away cellular phones in school.

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