By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Another Moro fatality found positive of coronavirus (COVID-19) was buried under Islamic rites Sunday in Metro Manila with the intercession of the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG), the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) announced Monday night.
NCMF spokesman Dimapuno Alonto-Datu Ramos Jr. said the fatality’s remains were buried in a Muslim cemetery in the National Capital Region (NCR) Sunday morning upon the instructions of DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malayang.
He did not specify where in NCR the Islamic burial was done, saying only that a local government unit (LGU) in the region had refused earlier the burial and, instead, only wanted cremation for the COVID-19 victim.
Cremation, which has been the global standard for coronavirus-afflicted cadavers, is “haram”, or forbidden in Islam, the NCMF official said.
Muslims neither allow embalming on cadavers, thereby necessitating the immediate burial within 24 hours to prevent decomposition, said Datu Ramos, who is himself, a medical practitioner.
In his Facebook post, Datu Ramos said NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan called DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for help in reported cases of some Muslim remains being denied of burial in NCR and Luzon areas, or their being stranded along checkpoints in Mindanao.
He cited instances about Muslim families complaining of being barred from passing through checkpoints in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities due to lack of documents on detailed cause of deaths of their deceased relatives.
The transport of the deceased which were asymptomatic of COVID-virus was allowed to pass through the checkpoints only after facilitation by DILG Assistant Secretary Marjorie “Kat” Jalosjos, Datu Ramos said.
Subsequently, Ano and Medialdea issued an addendum advisory in the guidelines of the national Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 to exempt Muslim remains from cremation, and permit their transport for eventual burial, Datu Ramos said.
The NCMF posted in Facebook pages a quoted gist of the additional advisory, which states: “A COVID-19 positive Muslim cadaver must put in sealed bag and buried within 12 hours in nearest designated Muslim cemeteries around the country.”
“The entire Muslim Filipino community and the NCMF family are ever thankful to the Cabinet members of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly Secretaries Año and Medialdea,” Datu Ramos said.