THE Cebu City Government ordered the closure of the public cemetery in Barangay Labangon on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, after it received reports that dead bodies were being secretly buried there at night.
Some families had complained that the bodies of their loved ones were exhumed even before the five-year mark, which is when bodies are considered safe to be removed from the burial ground, said City Councilor Dave Tumulak.
Tumulak said the persons allegedly responsible for this are cemetery caretakers who were paid by the funeral parlor to dig up and bury the new bodies.
“Based on the reports we received, several bodies have been buried in the cemetery by persons working in the cemetery who were contracted by the funeral parlor. The unfortunate thing is they also exhumed bodies that had been buried there for less than five years and replaced these with new bodies,” Tumulak said in Cebuano.
He said the same thing happened last month when many bodies, including those of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) victims, were brought to public cemeteries around the city and there was no space for them.
He said that since the start of August, though, the situation has improved. Slots are now available after several bodies that had been buried for five years or more were exhumed.
As of the moment, 171 slots are available in the city’s public cemeteries.
City Health Department officer-in-charge Dr. Jeffrey Ibones, operatives of Police Station 9 in Barangay Labangon and barangay officials will monitor the cemetery on A. Lopez St. to prevent illegal burials.
Tumulak met with the management of St. Peter Memorial Chapels and the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes to discuss the cremation of Covid-19 victims.
He said Cosmopolitan management told him they’ve prepared two mortuary freezers where bodies of non-Covid victims will be stored.
Last year, Malacañang ordered hospitals and local government units to make sure bodies of patients who died of Covid-19 are cremated within 12 hours. (PAC / PJB)