'Affordable funerals for poor families'

Local News Official
Local News OfficialSunStar File Photo

LOW income families may soon have reliable access to affordable caskets and funeral services for their departed loved ones as House Bill (HB) 102 authored and sponsored by House Deputy Speaker and Cebu Fifth District Rep. Vincent Franco “Duke” Frasco passed deliberations in the committee on trade and industry at the House of Representatives.

Under Frasco’s HB 102 or the proposed “Affordable Casket Act,” all funeral establishments shall always maintain the availability of decent caskets that would cost not more than P20,000. The scope of the bill was further expanded during the committee deliberations with the P20,000 cap now including not only caskets but also funeral expenses.

“In the Philippines, the cost of dying has become a burden akin to the challenges of living. Many Filipinos are born in poverty, and unfortunately, they often pass away in similar circumstances. With steep funeral and burial costs, one can only imagine the painful experience that grief-stricken Filipino families go through when facing not only the loss of their loved ones but also the financial burden brought about by high-cost funeral expenses,” Frasco said in his sponsorship speech.

Casket prices vary between P5,000 and P110,000, but lower-priced options are often scarce or entirely unavailable in many funeral parlors. This adds to the already high expenses associated with

funerals in the country.

With Frasco’s “Affordable Casket Act”, if there is no affordable casket available and the deceased is indigent or extremely poor as duly certified by a barangay chairman or a social worker, the funeral establishment shall be obliged to offer a casket of any higher value, but the price to be paid shall still not exceed P20,000 to include funeral expenses.

Under the proposed measure, funeral parlors that violate may be fined between P200,000 and P400,000 or may have their business permits or licenses revoked.

Drawing from his experience as the former mayor of Liloan town in the Province of Cebu, Frasco emphasized the financial strain that low-income families endure when faced with the loss of a loved one, as escalating funeral costs not only deepen their grief but also push them into debt.

“Regulating the sale of caskets and funeral expenses will greatly relieve grief-stricken families of the added financial burden, and preserve the human dignity of our fellow Filipinos, both in life and in death,” added Frasco.

During the House committee hearing attended by representatives as well as stakeholders from the funeral services industry, the representatives agreed that the bill would be expanded in scope to include all funeral services, and not just the cost of caskets.

Once passed into law, the measure is seen to provide social protections to the poorest of the poor and reduce the impact of poverty incidence amid the current high costs of funerals and caskets.

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