By Marjaleen Ramos
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Tuesday said it will coordinate with concerned government agencies in handling the remains of patients who died from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“First of all, we like to emphasize that the MMDA is not responsible for collecting, transporting, and disposing of the dead bodies of the COVID-19 casualties,” MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago said in an interview on ANC.
Pialago clarified that the MMDA will only act as a coordinating agency among local government units and crematory services.
“MMDA will try to bridge the gap between LGUs, hospitals, and crematory services. As we speak, common problems now are delayed release of death certificates and some patients who die in different LGUs from their place of residence,” the spokesperson said.
“At least there would be one leading agency that can tap the funeral services, the LGUs … Some of the patients died in a particular city which is far from his or her residence so there should be a close coordination,” she added.
Officials of concerned government agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government, LGUs, and funeral and crematory services will meet on Thursday in order to address logistical concerns and other issues, Pialago said.
“We hope to formulate proper guidelines and procedures to effectively and efficiently manage dead bodies,” Pialago added.
COVID-19 Response chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the MMDA and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) were tasked to lead in the proper disposition of COVID-19 dead bodies.
This came after reports that bodies were piling in the hallway of a hospital in Quezon City due to lack of body bags and because relatives have not retrieved the cadavers for proper disposition.