Of Cemeteries and Memorial Parks

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By Roberto A. Capili

Real Estate Updates

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I DON’T want to sound being morbid, lest the article would not be read in full, but to simply state the importance of giving due recognition to this aspect of real estate - memorial parks and cemeteries development. The idea of cemeteries and memorial parks started with government's initiative of providing a space to the interment of the dead. As the living needs a place to live, so do the dead who would have to be provided a place of their own.

This situation led to the development of public cemeteries where the dead were interred primarily due to government's allocation of enough space for this purpose. This was not for long, because of the increasing requirement for cemeteries especially in urban centers due to critical land space shortage. Our Baguio Public Cemetery is just one classic example of the limited land space allocated for the interment of the dead.

This is where the private sector came in. The private-led initiative and foray into this real estate venture started sometime in the 1960's introducing the so-called "memorialization industry." This private venture in the industry was the forerunner of the now memorial services which included the development of memorial parks. Initially, these were more of a simple plots patterned after the cemeteries development but later the memorial park industry gained a very encouraging, favourable patronage from all sectors especially with the evolution of its development that look more like recreational grounds where people can relax and children can play.

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Today in many cities and other urban centers, memorial parks can be found in great numbers and the demand for these real estate development had encourage many real estate developers to go into such project development. Just like any other real estate ventures, these developments is under the supervision and administration primarily of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and follows the rules, regulations and guidelines in the current Subdivision Law by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 957.
The other related laws governing the operation of Memorial Parks and Cemeteries are: Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 856, the Sanitation Code; the National Building Code (Presidential Decree No. 1096); Batas Pambansa Blg. 344, the Accessibility Law; Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7277, the Magna Carta for Disable Persons; Water Code and the Electric Code, among other laws.

CEMETERY is described as a public or private land used for the burial of the dead and other uses dedicated for cemetery purposes, to include landscaped grounds, driveways, walks, columbarium, crematories, mortuaries, mausoleum, niches, graveyards and public comfort rooms. On the other hand MEMORIAL PARK is a privately-owned cemetery with well-kept landscaped lawns and wide roadways and footpaths separating the areas assigned for ground interments, tombs, mausoleums and columbarium; with or without a mortuary chapel; and provided with a systematic supervision and maintenance.

The establishment and operation of Memorial Parks and Cemeteries Development is covered in our existing subdivision laws particularly Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 957 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) is tasked to issue the necessary licenses and permits, supervise and regulate the operations of Memorial Parks and Cemeteries.

Location of Cemeteries and Memorial Parks
Of utmost concern in this kind of real estate development is the location required of Cemeteries and Memorial Parks. As required by law, these shall be located in accordance with the approved Land Use Plan of the Local Government Unit (LGU) concerned. Prior clearance shall be obtained from the Department of Health (DOH), the National Water Resource Council (NWRC) and the National Pollution Control Commission (NPCC). As much as possible, cemeteries shall be situated at the peripheries of communities, away from centers of population or municipal Poblacion, at least one (1) kilometre away from the main thoroughfares.

The other guidelines in the criteria for the location is stated below:
1. Whenever possible, two or more municipalities sharing common boundaries between them should have a common cemetery situated at a central site from any of the municipalities.

2. A buffer strip twenty-five meters (25 m.) wide inward from and along the property line of the cemetery shall be provided to trees. No burial is allowed within the buffer strips.

3. No cemetery shall be located less than fifty meters (50 m.) from any source of water supply, wells, fresh water rivers, streams, creeks, lakes or lagoons neither shall wells be dug at any point less than fifty meters (50 m.) from existing cemeteries.

4. Cemeteries shall be located only on the ground where the water table is not higher than 4.25 meters below the ground surface. Where this is not possible, the cemetery shall be situated not less than three hundred meters (300 m.) downhill, and not less than one hundred meters (100 m.) uphill from any surface well or source of potable water supply, neither shall they be located within the watershed of a potable water supply system.

Layout and Landscape/Roads inside the Cemeteries

The cemetery shall be totally enclosed by a perimeter fence of a strong material, and all gates provided with a strong door and lock. Perimeter walls shall not exceed three meters (3 m.) in height. Where a solid reinforced concrete walls encloses a cemetery at least two meters (2 m.) high, but not exceeding three meters (3 m.), it is allowed to construct tombs, vaults, mausoleums or other types of sepulchres for the dead up to the walls. Otherwise a clearance of five meters (5 m.) shall be maintained between the perimeter fence and the nearest interment plot.

Where the cemetery lots abut a busy thoroughfare, there shall be a setback of sufficient distance to provide enough parking spaces to admit all funeral traffic for five (5) simultaneous funeral without spillage to the thoroughfare.

For local cemeteries, there shall be a main road of two meters (2 m.) width from the main gate straight to the rear of the cemetery for pedestrian traffic. Cross roads of one meter (1 m.) minimum width shall be laid out to divide the cemetery into sections. (to be continued next week)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 18, 2014.

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