By Ben Rosario
Domestic tumult brought about by family members who find themselves in a tug-of-war for the right over a cadaver of a deceased relative will finally be addressed if a bill filed by a Negros Occidental lawmaker is passed into law.
Bacolod City Rep. Greg G. Gasataya filed House Bill 2691 proposing to amend Title X of the Civil Code of the Philippines, relating to “Funeral”, seeks to clarify and emphasize “the right to custody and possession of the cadaver in regard to the final rites or funeral.”
“While our existing laws simply provide for the arrangement of the funeral or final rites of the deceased to be based on the order of support as provided, there still remains unharmonious tug-of-war claim over the corpses of the departed family members,” explained Gasataya.
Gasataya, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said there was an urgent “need to clarify and emphasize the right to custody and possession of the cadaver in regard to the final rites or funeral.”
This can be done by amending Article 305 of the Civil Code, he stressed.
HB 2691 proposes to further amend Article 305 of Republic No. 386, otherwise known as the Civil Code of the Philippines” to assign who shall have the right to “possess” and have custody of the cadaver of a person.
Gasataya proposed that the “duty and the right to make arrangements for the funeral of a relative and the right to have the custody and possession of the cadaver shall be in accordance with the order of support found in Article 195 of Executive Order 209, otherwise known as the Family Code of the Philippines.”
Article 195 of the Family Code of the Philippines provides that the following are “obliged to support each other”:
1) The spouses;
2) Legitimate ascendants and descendants;
3) Parents and their legitimate children and the legitiamte and illegitimate children of the latter;
4) Parents and their illegitimate children and the legitiamte and illegitimate children of the latter; and
5) Legitimate brothers and sisters, whether of full or half blood.
The bill retained the provision of Article 305 of the Civil Code that states that in cases of descendants of the same degree or of brothers and sisters, with the eldest having preference over the other siblings.
However, in cases involving children or ascendants, the father shall have the better right over the remains of a dead person.
“Contemporarily, the many complexities in family relations considering the existence of illegitimate relationships brought about by de facto separation of couples, adultery, and other similar circumstances are weakening the foundation of family life and relations,” noted Gasataya.
However, in the case of the demise of a “wayward spouse of relative”, the body usually becomes the subject of conflict between “the legitimate and illegitimate relatives, and among family members.”