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Written By Jhunnex Napallacan
The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Twenty-one elementary students in an island-village of Tubigon, Bohol, Philippines were hospitalized for food poisoning after eating the fruit of tuba-tuba or jatropha tree on Wednesday.


The public school students were on their way home when they passed by two jatropha trees and started picking the nuts and eating its seeds, not knowing they were poisonous, physician Adoracion Torregosa, administrator of the Tubigon Community Hospital, said Thursday.

Torregosa said the students, with ages ranging from 7 to 13 years old, immediately complained of abdominal pain and headache after they ate the seeds. Some of them started vomiting, he said.

Tuba-tuba, or jatropha, is considered as one of the country's most promising sources of bio-fuel today because its nuts contained oil that can be processed into biodiesel.

But while the plant is also being used in traditional medication, it has poisonous properties.

The students are all residents of Batasan Island, an islet 30 minutes by motorized boat from mainland Tubigon, in the central Philippine province of Bohol.


The children had just been released from their morning class at the Batasan Island Elementary School at past 11 a.m. when the incident happened.

Torregosa said the pupils were brought to the hospital at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, around four hours after the poisoning.

Their parents gave them first aid treatment by making them drink coconut milk and cooking oil, he said.

"The leader of the group, the one who enticed the other children to eat the seeds, ate four seeds but he was up and about because (his) resistance was strong. The rest were the ones who were poisoned," Torregosa said.

Torregosa said the children ate the jetropha nuts because they tasted like peanuts and pili nuts.

Torregosa said the tuba-tuba trees were inside a fence but some fruit-bearing branches hanged over the road and became easy picking for the passing children.

Torregosa said that 19 of the children were brought to the town's hospital. Everlie Bopero, 8, was brought to St. Joseph Clinic in the town, and John Alfie Oldinaria, 12, was brought to Tagbilaran City's Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital.

The 19 pupils who were brought to the Tubigon Community Hospital were Princess Mae Ladrera, 7; Chandrina Premacio, 10; Jollyvie Bañanola, 7; Jessa Bañanola, 7; Krishia Cosicol, 7; Christine Mae Sucano,7; Jhul Raven Fernandez, 13; Jenalyn Cubellas, 8; Jonalyn Alipoyo, 8; Dynaven Saavedra, 7; Aina Plaza, 9; Reggie Premacio, 9; Rica Mejares, 7; Angelica Cabillo, 8; Billy Joe Premacio, 12; Erica Mae Mejares, 7; Jerrick Elle, 9; Stephen Oldenaria, 7; and Steven Tabat, 7.

Torregosa said the pupils brought to TCH were given dextrose and confined overnight. They were released at 10 a.m. on Thursday, he said.

Torregosa said Bopero was already home while Oldinaria was also about to be released.

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