Dr. Ma. Salve Olalia. Photo by AKEMI B. AIDATHE UST Health Service has issued a new health bulletin declaring the water supply of V. Concepcion Street free of E. coli bacteria.

With the bulletin, eateries and restaurants at the lunch-break haven hope customers will return, admitting that business has been affected by initial findings of water contamination in the area.

Before the new bulletin, however, restaurant owners had filed a complaint against the head of the UST Health Service, Dr. Ma. Salve Olalia, before Barangay 470, claiming the UST health bulletin last August 1 warning Thomasians against E. coli was “malicious” and “unacceptable.”

City Hall health officials sided with UST, stating in a legal opinion dated Sept.24 that Olalia was only acting to ensure the health of UST students.

The barangay mediation ended well with “the parties concerned (agreeing) to work for the betterment of relations in the interest of all stakeholders,” Olalia told the Varsitarian.

It all began when 10 Thomasians complained of food poisoning after eating at Flavorites restaurant, prompting the City Hall to conduct a test for E. coli last July. The result of the bacteriological water analysis was positive. Flavorites claims only five students had complained of food poisoning.

Later, nine other restaurants on V. Concepcion were also tested by city health authorities, and were cleared. But the Health Service pointed out that the tests on other restaurants, which used the PHC media bottle rapid screening method, was meant to detect Salmonella, not E. Coli, resulting in the August 1 UST health bulletin which advised Thomasians “(to) be empowered on checking if the food they are taking is safe from contamination.”

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A follow-up water examination by the Sanitary Inspector’s Office of the Manila City Hall last Aug. 26 declared 10 food establishments on V. Concepcion negative of E.coli.

The food establishments cleared of E.coli were Anong’s Grill, SR Thai Cuisine, R Square Food House and Sari-Sari Store, Merrie’s Canteen, Cely’s Canteen, Lisa’s Canteen, Sisig Express, Flavorites, and fastfood restaurants Chowking and Wendy’s.

The water testing was conducted by District Sanitary Officer Norman de Jesus last in response to Olalia’s request for a bacteriological examination of water samples in the 10 restaurants.

Flavorites owner Jessie Ong was happy the problem had been resolved. “Hopefully, the customers will now come back on our restaurant so that we can recover our losses,” Ong told the Varsitarian.

But the other food outlets were not as happy as Ong, after their sales plummeted.

“We (other restaurants) were long before negative (of E.coli). We were just dragged into this mess,” said Cely Venzon of Cely’s Canteen.

Eight of the 10 cleared food outlets filed a complaint against Olalia before Barangay 470. Barangay officials immediately summoned Olalia for mediation.

The complainants were led by Samuel de Torres, Lisa’s Canteen co-owner, with Cely’s Canteen, Merries’ Canteen, R Square Food House, SR Thai Cuisine, Anong’s Grill, and Sisig Express.

Other signatories include Motong’s Canteen, Java Holics Canteen, All-Time Hapag Kainan Canteen, Sizzling, and CK Dapitan.

“It was only Flavorites that tested positive (from E.coli), why were we (other food outlets) included in the bulletin?” De Torres asked.

The City Hall legal opinion, however, said UST was well within its rights to warn students of a possible water contamination in the area. It also said the barangay mediation process does not cover juridical entities like UST, meaning Olalia need not honor the barangay summons.

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To clear the air, Olalia chose to face the complainants, bringing with her Roberto Evangelista of the Office for Student Affairs, Clemente Dingayan of the UST Security Force, and Central Student Council president Angelo Cachero, among others.

The complainants also wanted Varsitarian reporter Aura Marie Dagcutan to appear after her article, “Health Service warns UST against E.coli,” appeared on the August 31 issue of the Varsitarian.

The Varsitarian chose not to attend the mediation, as it does not fall under barangay jurisdiction. Prinz P. Magtulis

1 COMMENT

  1. good pm po,isa po kami sa nabiktima ng chowking apalit pampanga branch.na ospital po kami hanggang ngayon.walang pakialam yung chowking san po ba pwedeng humingi ng tulong?wala po kasi kaming pambayad ng atty.

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