City lacks burial sites
Fred P. Languido (The Freeman) - June 29, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Cebu City government is now scrambling to have its own public cemetery to address a sudden shortage of burial sites due to the overwhelming number of deaths—both COVID and non-COVID-related— that crematoriums and public cemeteries could no longer accommodate.

The City Council on Friday passed a resolution requesting the Department of Health (DOH) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) to expedite the processing of clearances and approval, if not waive altogether,  except the legal requirements and safety and health standards required under the establishment of public cemetery.

The Council also directed the Department of General Services to identify from among the city-owned lots the most suitable location for a public cemetery that would comply with the requirements under the Sanitation Code and HLURB rules.

Councilor David Tumulak, author of the resolution, said there is an extreme urgency for the city to have its own cemetery because of what he described as “looming public crisis if the establishment of Cebu City Public Cemetery is further delayed.”

“In the midst of the present COVID-19 pandemic and the rising number of positive cases in the country, there is also the rising number of deaths in Cebu City, not just individuals confirmed with coronavirus but also of individuals suspected of the dreaded virus, in addition to those who have died due to other causes,” the resolution read.

As of yesterday, the Cebu City Health Department reported a total of 156 deaths due to COVID-19. However, the data may not be reflective of the actual number of COVID mortalities in the city.

Tumulak admitted that several deaths were not officially recorded as COVID case despite having symptoms of the disease because the patients died at home without seeing a doctor.

“Daghan ang nangamatay with symptoms sa COVID diha ra sa balay kay mahadlok moadto sa hospital,” Tumulak told The Freeman.

Under the interim guidelines on the management of human remains for confirmed COVID-19 cases and those under investigation (DILG memorandum circular no. 2020-063), burial or cremation should be done within 12 hours after death.

“Given this 12-hour period requirement for burial, funeral parlors are recently always at full capacity in terms of funeral services. Adding to this problem is the high cost of cremation for dead bodies that families of the deceased opt for their dead to be buried,” Tumulak’s resolution read.

Cremation costs between P50,000 to P60,000 for COVID-19 while non-COVID is between P20,000 to P35,000.

According to Tumulak, most existing public cemeteries in Cebu City that are managed by the Archdiocese of Cebu are full and can no longer accommodate additional burials.

   He warned that the problem will get worse in the next few months if the city will not be able to build its own public cemetery.

“In the next few months mosamot and problema kay wala tay kalubngan sa patay labi na sa mga pobre,” Tumulak said.

(The problem will get worse in the next few months because we lack burial site for the dead, especially the poor)

“Puno na gyud ang menteryo,” Tumulak added.

(Cemeteries are full)

In fact, Tumulak shared a personal experience that his nephew could not be accommodated in Calamba Cemetery, one of the biggest public cemeteries in the city, last week. (FREEMAN)

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