Stricter disposal of cadaver sought as author airs fears of burying criminal activities

Published October 31, 2019, 6:09 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Ben Rosario 

The disposal of a human cadaver without the approval of a deceased person’s next of kin will be penalized under a bill filed by a neophyte Quezon City lawmaker.

On a vote of 261 to 18, the Senate and the House of Representatives decide to extend martial law in Mindanao up to December 31, 2017 in a joint, special session at the Batasang Pambansa yesterday. Inset photo shows Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III (left) and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez presiding over the session that lasted more than seven hours. (Jansen Romero, Alvin Kasiban)
House of the Representatives (Manila Bulletin File Photo)

Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo said summary cremation of a cadaver or the dropping a corpse overboard a ship or a plane presupposes concealment of a wrongdoing, thus, must be prohibited.

“Hence, unauthorized disposition of human corpses should be severely dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,’ said Castelo as she filed House bill 3383.

To be known as the “Unauthorized Human Corpse Disposal Act”, HB 3383 makes unauthorized disposal of a human corpse a crime if done without the express approval of the next of kin of the deceased.

In the bill, Castelo said the cadaver shall remain in the custody of the funeral parlor within a “reasonable period within which time, concurrence of the next of kin on the manner of disposing the dead body [shall be sought].”

However, the bill did not specify the time period considered as “reasonable.”

The bill proposes a fine of not less than P200,000 and/or a maximum one year imprisonment on offenders.

Provisions of the Sanitation Code of the Philippines (SCP) address concerns on public health and not on the possible criminal aspect of disposing human remains.

The law provides that remains of a deceased should be carefully placed in a plastic cadaver and other durable air-tight containers at the point of death. It also bars opening of the container for viewing and other purposes before burial or cremation.

To be subjected to this sanitary precautions are remains of persons who died from complications caused by HIV/AIDs, meningococcemia, viral hemorrhagic fever such as African Ebolas and yellow fever; hepatitis B and C; rabies, streptococcal infections, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

The SCP also provides for the manner of disposition of cadavers to be used for medical studies and scientific research.

“For forensic purposes, deceased persons should be preserved in accordance with standard sanitation practices until the next of kin has expressly acquiesced to their final disposition,” said Castelo.