It’s a sad event when a loved one passes on, but it’s arguably even more difficult for poor households who not only have to deal with the grief but also the financial burden of enduring a death in the family.
A Senate bill wants to secure free funeral services for poor families earning a combined gross income of PHP15,000 or under US$300 a month. These households must also not be owners of any real property or a vehicle.
“In the Philippines, funeral and burial services can range from 10,000 to hundreds of thousands of pesos. As such, many poor families are not only wracked with grief but also deep financial stress that may even lead them to borrow funds from lenders with high interest rates,” Senator Raffy Tulfo, the bill’s author, said in his explanatory note.
As cemetery plots can cost a fortune, from lawn lots that start at PHP200,000 (US$3,663) upwards, these can be too costly for most families — leading many to rent graves in stacked niches until their contract expires. Those who are unable to move their dead to another plot once their contract is up have no choice but to have their loved one’s remains buried in a mass grave.
Although the Department of Social Welfare and Development already provides burial assistance to bereaved families, Tulfo wants to institutionalize free burial and funeral services for the poor.
This would include the preparation of funeral documents, embalming, viewing, burial, or cremation. Accredited mortuaries should also provide a casket or an urn.
In November, the Makayaban bloc — which include ACT Teachers’ Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel — filed a similar bill in Congress, which will grant free or discounted funeral services to indigent families.
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