CEBU CITY – Some funeral homes kept cadavers in their ill-equipped facility instead of burying them right away to collect storage fees.
Authorities discovered this malpractice after a pile of cadavers was found in the morgue of Saint Bernard Funeral Homes in Barangay Basak-San Nicolas on Tuesday morning.
City Councilor Dave Tumulak said they inspected what was initially described as an abandoned building after some residents reported that cadavers were being brought there almost everyday.
Tumulak said at least 16 bodies were found in the building and there were reports that some were the remains of those who died of COVID-19.
“Binuang ni (This is a baloney). They will tell the relatives that there were no vacant cemetery and crematorium so they would opt to store the cadavers in the morgue. This is their modus operandi,” said Tumulak.
Tumulak said the funeral parlor would charge P13,000 as storage fee for the first day and P8,000 for the succeeding days.
While paying huge amount of money, relatives were unaware that the cadavers were improperly handled.
Some cadavers were placed on top of each other. Some bodies were laid on the floor and some were kept in chest freezers.
“I don’t know if those chest freezers were the ones required for storing cadavers,” Tumulak added.
“It was clear that there was violation of the sanitary code. There were bodies that were placed on top of each other. The bodies were wrapped improperly. It was very unsanitary,” added Tumulak.
The manager of the funeral parlor arrived while Tumulak, City Health personnel and the police were inspecting the facility.
SJ Palomar said the building served as the morgue of the funeral parlor that has been operating since 2008.
Palomar said the cadavers were properly stored but it so happened that the remains were being rearrange when authorities arrived for inspection.
Palomar said no COVID-19 fatalities were stored in the morgue.
Palomar admitted they accepted storage services from other funeral parlors.
“There is sabotage here. These funeral parlors made the relatives believe that there are no vacant cemeteries,” said Tumulak said.
It will be up to the City Legal Office to look into the possible legal liability of the funeral parlors.
“These funeral parlors were already told to coordinate with the City Health because they will be assisted in finding burial spaces. We already have spaces because every day, there are bodies that being exhumed,” said Tumulak.
“We don’t have problems with cemetery anymore. In fact, there were will be two cemeteries that will be constructed,” added Tumulak.
Tumulak said funeral parlors were already informed of the proper disposal of COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 deaths based on the Inter-Agency Task Force resolution.
“Those who died of COVID-19 or even these suspected must be disposed within 12 hours. Crematoriums were even advised to prioritize COVID-19 deaths,” said Tumulak.