THE local government of Pinamungajan, Cebu has belied claims that the town is dumping individuals who died of Covid-19 in a mass grave.
“The local government of Pinamungajan, Cebu strongly belies all claims that it maintains a mass grave for deaths related to Covid-19,” the local government unit (LGU) said in a statement issued on its Facebook page Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.
It explained that the town’s new municipal cemetery is the only site in place for Covid-related deaths, and that “all the dead bodies buried therein have their own separate grave, contrary to claims that it is a mass grave, subject to certain specifications mandated by the national government.”
As of Aug. 26, 2021, the town located on the western seaboard of Cebu had reported only 22 deaths since the Covid-19 pandemic began. As of that day, it had a total of 437 confirmed cases, of which 312 were recoveries, 103 were active cases, and 22 were deaths.
Mayor Glenn Baricuatro opened the new municipal cemetery located in Barangay Pandacan on Dec. 20, 2020 “to address the worsening condition at the old municipal cemetery in Poblacion” which, the LGU said, occurred after years of neglect by previous administrations led to “disorderly placed and arranged” tombs, some even going beyond the boundary of the cemetery lot.
The new municipal cemetery is the only site that meets the requirements for ground burial set by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the management of the remains of Covid-19 mortalities, according to the LGU.
Under DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-063 entitled “Interim Guidelines on the Management of Human Remains for Patient Under Investigation (PUI) and Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Cases” issued on March 27, 2020, Section 5.5. provides the procedures for burial and cremation.
For those to be buried, the circular specifies that the remains must (a) be placed in a sealed casket, (b) not be taken to any place of public assembly, (c) be buried in a grave at least 1.5 meters deep and filled well and firmly, (d) not be buried in a grave where the water table is less than two meters deep from the natural ground surface, and (e) not be buried within a 25-meter radius of any residential area.
Furthermore, the circular states the next of kin must secure a burial permit from the city or municipality where the deceased shall be buried.
The local government said that under the DILG circular, “it is very clear that the only allowable means of burying the remains of a person who tested positive of Covid-19 or suspected thereof is only through ground burial. Above-ground interment is strictly disallowed.”
To dispel concerns about any unceremonious burial of the dead, the LGU said that while the old municipal cemetery was “bereft of space,” the new 20,940-square-meter municipal cemetery has a “vast and wide burial ground as one of its sections.”
The new municipal cemetery has three sections: apartment type, ground burial/lawn lots, and mausoleum.
Pinamungajanons were assured that the cemetery is properly managed and maintained as the Sangguniang Bayan of Pinamungajan had passed on Nov. 18, 2020 Ordinance 0034-2020, or “An Ordinance Providing Guidelines for the Use, Operation and Maintenance of the New Municipal Cemetery of the Municipality of Pinamungajan, Cebu, Including the Collection of Fees and Charges and Imposition of Penalties for Violations Thereof” to ensure this. (CTL)