By Ellson Quismorio
Seeing a tearjerker on television spurred Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez to ask the national government to shoulder the cremation or burial expenses of families whose loved ones passed because of COVID-19.
Rodriguez said he witnessed on Thursday night on TV “a pitiful sight of widows of COVID-19 [patients] walking long distances from the city hall to the civil registry to the crematorium/burial site to attend to their dead.”
“We should spare them such pain and agony. That is adding insult to injury, since they have already lost their loved ones to this deadly virus,” he said.
Rodriguez said the national government, through the Department of Health (DOH, “should pay for all the burial expenses of all COVID-19 patients on a reimbursement scheme where the local government units (LGUs) will first respond to the burial needs from the hospital to the funeral parlor/crematorium to the burial site.”
“All the expenses of the LGU should be reimbursed by the DOH,” added the veteran lawmaker, who chairs the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
He suggested that LGUs should create “fully-protected teams to take care of cremation and other burial arrangements.”
“We should discourage relatives from directly participating in these arrangements for their own protection and safety, as they would be exposed to the virus,” Rodriguez said.
He said the Muslim tradition of burying their dead within 24 hours should be followed. Cremation is forbidden in Islam.
Last Monday, the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 directed all LGUs to ensure that corpses are cremated/buried within 12 hours to prevent the spread of the virus, and to bear the cost involved.
The city government of Makati responded by announcing that it would assume the cost of cremation/burial.
Rodriguez said most LGUs “are not like Makati in terms of financial resources, and the national government should help them by reimbursing the full cost of cremation/burial of COVID-19 patients’ remains.”