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DILG to issue show cause order vs mayor of Montalban, Rizal for refusing burial of two Muslim Filipinos who died of COVID-19

DILG to issue show cause order vs mayor of Montalban, Rizal for refusing burial of two Muslim Filipinos who died of COVID-19

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will issue a show cause order against a town mayor in Rizal who allegedly refused to allow the burial in their locality of two Muslim Filipinos who died of COVID-19 which is “a clear defiance of government guidelines on burial amid the public health emergency situation in the country.”

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that the mayor reportedly refused the signing of applications for burial permits and the families of the deceased had to bring the bodies to the Muslim cemetery in Norzagaray, Bulacan where the victims were laid to rest. The first victim died on March 22 who was buried only after almost two days while the second died on March 30.

“Limitado ang Muslim cemeteries dito sa Metro Manila. Huwag na po sana nating dagdagan pa ang pighati ng mga namatayan na nagnanais lamang na maayos na mailagak sa huling hantungan ang kanilang namatay na mahal sa buhay,” he said.

In the Islamic faith, the deceased are to be buried within 24 hours. The Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula also said that ritual bathing of the body in accordance with Muslim rites may be done if the health authorities say it is safe, otherwise a Muslim doctor may perform tayammum or dry ablution to the dead prior to placement inside a cadaver bag. The janaza or the Islamic funeral prayer is to be done at the graveyard.

Guidelines issued by the Department of Health on February 3 on the disposal and shipment of Covid- 19 victims stipulate that burial must be done within 12 hours, with cremation as the preferred method, but "to the most possible extent, be in accordance with the person's religion or customs.”

The World Health Organization (WHO)’s interim guidance on March 24 on the infection prevention and control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of Covid- 19 also provided that the dignity of the dead, their cultural and religious traditions, and their families should be respected and protected throughout.

“We are displeased with the disregard of the town mayor of Islamic traditions and I have already ordered our legal office to issue the show cause order to the Mayor of Montalban, Rizal,” said Año.

“Imagine the inconvenience of transporting their dead all the way from Metro Manila to Rizal and passing through checkpoints only to be turned away and then traveling to Bulacan just to be able to bury their departed family member,” he said.

The DILG is currently investigating the two incidents in coordination with its attached agency, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which received the reports directly from the victims’ families when they were baffled where to bury their dead.

“It is understandable that there is a possible fear of the mayor to allow the burial of Covid-19 victims in his territorial jurisdiction. Pero sana nananaig pa rin ang malasakit at bayanihan sa gitna ng krisis na ito. Huwag po sana maging balakid ang mga lokal na pamahalaan sa agarang pagpapalibing ng mga biktima at nang agad ding maiwasan ang posibleng pagkalat ng virus,” said Malaya.

Since the enhanced community quarantine was implemented, there have been 11 Muslim Filipino deaths. Three are recorded in Metro Manila, one Cagayan de Oro City, one in Iligan City, four in Marawi City, and one in Davao.

“The DILG is urging all local government units (LGUs) to follow the IATF-MEID guidelines on how to handle and bury bodies infected with Covid- 19. Burial should occur within 12 hours from death if the body will not be cremated, and that religious rituals and customs must be respected,” he said.

The DILG is also asking the management of local cemeteries to inform the NCMF of their available spaces so that the NCMF can readily be informed should the need arise.

According to the DILG Chief, LGUs may also coordinate with the NCMF, through their regional offices, in acquiring the list of the indigent Muslim Filipino families who can avail of the government’s social amelioration program being led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The NCMF formed a Covid-19 Task Force to coordinate with other agencies and to respond to the immediate needs of Muslim Filipinos nationwide. The hotlines are 09197181289 and 09975017067.

Original Article at: https://dilg.gov.ph/news/DILG-to-issue-show-cause-order-vs-mayor-of-Montalban-Rizal-for-refusing-burial-of-two-Muslim-Filipinos-who-died-of-COVID-19/NC-2020-1080

 

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