261 down with food poisoning at party for Imelda Marcos

A Filipino supporter of the Philippines' former first lady Imelda Marcos resting after exhibiting symptoms of food poisoning outside the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig city, east of Manila, yesterday. There were over 2,500 guests at the party to mark M
A Filipino supporter of the Philippines' former first lady Imelda Marcos resting after exhibiting symptoms of food poisoning outside the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig city, east of Manila, yesterday. There were over 2,500 guests at the party to mark Mrs Marcos' 90th birthday, organised by supporters of the Marcos family. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Hordes of guests were taken to hospital yesterday after falling ill from food poisoning at a party to mark the 90th birthday of the Philippines' former first lady Imelda Marcos.

In a news briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at least 261 people were taken to five hospitals. They were nauseous, vomiting and suffered severe abdominal pains after they ate meals served at Mrs Marcos' party, held at a sports complex in Pasig city, an hour's drive east of the capital Manila.

Two were severely dehydrated and were being closely monitored, said Dr Duque.

There were over 2,500 guests at the party, organised by supporters of the Marcos family.

Mrs Marcos was there, a spokesman for the family said. Her daughter, Imee, a newly elected senator, also attended. Neither fell ill.

Mrs Marcos turned 90 on Tuesday. She was also at another celebration on Monday in Manila.

According to radio reports, the party went on, even as those who fell ill were being moved to the back and taken to waiting ambulances.

Organisers had hired two caterers, and most of the guests were served rice, chicken cooked in soya sauce and vinegar, and boiled egg.

Colonel Rizalito Gapas, Pasig city police chief, said food and water samples were taken to test for contaminants.

Ms Imee Marcos said her family would tend to those in the hospital. "We'll visit each of them," she said.

Mrs Marcos' son, Ferdinand Jr, a former senator, apologised for the incident and said organisers were coordinating with investigators to determine what happened.

 
 

"I am very sorry, and asking for your understanding for what happened," he said.

Mrs Marcos, widow of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was last year sentenced to at least 42 years' jail over graft charges involving some US$658 million (S$892 million) that her family was accused of hiding through foundations set up in Switzerland.

An anti-graft court, referred to here as the Sandiganbayan, found Mrs Marcos guilty of seven counts of graft.

It sentenced her to six to 11 years' jail for each count.

The court also disqualified her from seeking public office.

She was, however, allowed to post bail while appealing against her conviction.

Mrs Marcos is best known for leaving behind more than 1,200 pairs of shoes when her family fled the Philippines following an army-backed uprising in 1986.

Her husband, who was president for nearly two decades, was accused of amassing more than US$10 billion while in office. He died in exile in 1989.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2019, with the headline '261 down with food poisoning at party for Imelda Marcos'. Print Edition | Subscribe