Free coffee downs at least 29 students
(The Freeman) - September 29, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - At least 29 students of Concord Technical Institute in Basak-San Nicolas, Cebu City were hospitalized yesterday after experiencing stomach pains allegedly caused by a coffee drink.

The students, 27 of them are minor, later complained of stomach pains after drinking bottles of Kopiko 78°C coffee latte offered to them as samples by a company.

They were brought to Cebu City Medical Center and are now in stable condition, said City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who heads the council's committee on public order and safety.

He said they were still waiting as of press time for more patients who may have experienced delayed effects of the coffee drink.

One of the students, a 14-year-old, in an interview with The FREEMAN said she did not know that the drink samples were only for the college students.

"Wala man mi kahibalo dili diay mi pwede, mao 'to niinom ko apan pipila ka gutlo kay naglain ako pamati, nalipong ko ug kasukaon, pero ang uban mga classmate nako kay gikalibang ra nila human sila nakainom. Tam-is siya pirmero imnon, pero madugay kay pait kayo," she said.

Cebu City Public Information Officer and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chief Nagiel Banacia said they will bring samples of the bottled coffee to the Department of Science and Technology to determine what triggered the stomach pains among the students.

Nathaniel Nuevas, Project Coordinator of Youthopia Media Phils. Incorporated, said they gave samples of the coffee drink in different schools, specifically for college students.

"Nasayop lang me kay nakahatag man mi og below 18 years old kay sagol man diay ang high school sa kolehiyo sa maong tulonghaan (Concord)," he said.

Nuevas assured the parents that they are willing and ready to provide all the needs of the students while they are in the hospital.

Legal remedies

Meanwhile, school head Lucena Butaya said they have coordinated with the school's legal counsel to look into possible legal remedies after what happened to their students.

 "What I am sure of is that we are going to press damages," she said.

She said they will meet with the parents of the involved students to consult them on the better way to resolve the matter.

Butaya discounted claims that the students were poisoned.

She said the students may have suffered from hyperacidity but the school faculty decided to rush them to the hospital.

Butaya narrated that some high school students joined the line to get the free drinks, but she reprimanded them as she also advised the project representatives to avoid offering drinks to the high school students.

"Ako silang giingnan nga bantayi ang mga high school (students). Dili magpataka og hatag. Mailhan man g'yud 'to nila kay lahi man ang uniform sa high school," she said.

Butaya was surprised high school students started coming to her office as the afternoon class sessions were about to resume, complaining of stomach pains or feeling dizzy. (FREEMAN)

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