Muslim public cemetries needed in localities --- Rep. Hataman

Cities and municipalities with considerable Muslim populations will be compelled to establish their own Muslim public cemeteries if a proposed measure of a lawmaker from Mindanao becomes law.

A woman walks through the Manila Islamic Cemetery and Cultural Hall in Manila. (AP)

House Bill No. 3755 or “Muslim Filipino Public Cemeteries Act,” filed by Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman, aims to require all local government units (LGUs) to allocate land, depending on the size of their respective Filipino Muslim populations, for the establishment of Muslim cemeteries.

Under the Muslim belief, culture, and tradition, the dead should be buried in 24 hours, Hataman said in a statement accompanied by the copy of his bill.

The location of the Muslim cemetery is important to the community.

“Grabeng hirap ang pinagdadaanan ng mga pamilya dahil dito, lalo na kung wala o malayo ang (The families suffer extremely because of this, especially if the) Muslim cemetery sa kanilang lugar. Kadalasan ay bumabiyahe pa nang malayo para lamang mailibing ang kanilang mahal sa buhay (is far from their homes. Usually, they need to travel far just to bury their loved ones),” the congressman said.

Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct ARMM, added he also proposed that indigent Muslim residents must be given free burial.

The statement cited the total population of Muslim Filipinos reached around 12.7 million based on the data from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

Of this number, hundreds of thousands of Muslim Filipino live in all of the regions except for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), which has a population of 39,503 Muslims.

“Dito lang sa Metro Manila kung saan lagpas kalahating milyon ang mga Muslim, congested na ang Taguig Muslim Cemetery (Just here in Metro Manila where the number of Muslims is over a million, the Taguig Muslim Cemetery is already congested),” he cited.

READ: Manila inaugurates first Muslim Cemetery and Cultural Hall

In HB 3755, all cities and municipalities within Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are required to allocate a minimum of two hectares of suitable land as public cemeteries for Muslim Filipinos

For Metro Manila, the bill requires at least 3,000 square meters of suitable lands to be used as Muslim cemeteries for each LGU, but may procure property outside of Metro Manila within reasonable traveling distance for the purpose.

For all cities and municipalities outside Metro Manila, the following rules apply: 5,000 square meters if Muslim population is at least 1,000; 3,000 square meters if Muslim population is at least 500; and 2,000 square meters if Muslim population is at least 300.

“In cases wherein any component city or municipality of a province does not meet the above-enumerated minimum population within the city or municipal territory for the establishment of a public Muslim Filipino cemetery, the province, being the next LGU and in anticipation of an increase in local Filipino Muslim population within its territory, is hereby mandated to allocate:

• A minimum of one hectare of suitable land for the establishment of a public Muslim cemetery where the total population of Filipino Muslims in the said province exceeds 2,000 individuals;

• 5,000 square meters when the total Filipino Muslim population in the province is below 2,000 but more than 1,001 individuals;

• 2,500 square meters when the total Filipino Muslim population in the province is 1,000 and below.”

Hataman praised the establishment of Muslim public cemeteries nearby Metro Manila, among which are Norzagaray Muslim Cemetery in Bulacan and Montalban Islamic Cemetery in Rizal.