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Lawmakers propose gov’t crematoriums

With the surge of drug-related deaths, lawmakers are seeking the creation of a state-run crematorium in every legislative district in the country.

Ako Bicol Reps. Rodel Batocabe, Alfredo Garbin, and Christopher Co filed House Bill No. 135 to ensure that cremation services will be more accessible even for those living in remote municipalities.

“Should President Duterte stay true in his mission to eliminate drug pushers by hook or by crook, our cemeteries will definitely be filled to the brim and the crematories will greatly help in this regard,” Batocabe said.

He said their measure also provides for a socialized fee structure to help indigent and marginalized families to avail themselves of free cremation services while sparing them of expenses for burial land and casket.

“With subsidized cremation costs, the government can ensure the affordable and accessible burial services of our people. Suffice it to state, this is a social equal access to social services even until their deaths,” he said.

He noted that cremation is generally cheaper than the traditional burial rite. Citing a 2015 data, a memorial lot costs at least P70,000 with an additional amount of at least P25,000 for the internment, including the casket, he said.

Public cemeteries also require renewal fees which could lead to disposal of the remains if the surviving family defaults on payment, he added.

He said the cremation process costs approximately P25,000, with the optional niche costing between P35,000 to R50,000. However, such niches are designed to hold numerous urns, still making it affordable in comparison.

“Our poor will have the choice to spend less and still give their loved ones a respectable burial without burning a hole in their pocket,” Batocabe said.

Garbin said other direct effects of foregoing traditional burial would be to decongest burial sites during the annual All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days and even during funeral processions.

“With a projected increase of deaths, congestion of our burial land will get worse so much so they are no longer conducive to the living and its dead residents,” he said.

Co said their measure encourages the productive use of lands for agricultural, residential, and industrial purposes.

“Finally, cremation is more environmentally friendly compared to traditional burial which could introduce contaminants from the coffin and the body,” he said.

HB 135 tasks the Department of Social Welfare and Development to manage, operate, and maintain a secured, clean, and adequately equipped crematory in each legislative district. It shall formulate the socialized rates for the cost of cremation, proportionate to the financial capability of the surviving family of the deceased. (Charissa M. Luci)