Cagayan De Oro City

Cagayan de Oro spends millions for cremations of COVID-19 deaths

Froilan Gallardo
Cagayan de Oro spends millions for cremations of COVID-19 deaths

HEALTH SYSTEM. A sign stating "Full capacity for COVID-19 cases" is posted at the entrance of the San Juan de Dios Educational Foundation in Pasay City on April 4, 2021, following a surge in coronavirus cases.

Photo by Rappler

The Management of the Dead Cluster of the Cagayan de Oro Emergency Operations Center ensures that the dead are either given decent burials or cremated to help their families in their time of grief

“Dying from COVID-19 is not cheap.”

This is what the Management of the Dead Cluster of the Cagayan de Oro Emergency Operations Center said in its report on Wednesday, August 11.

Armen Cuenca, head of the agency that supervises the disposal of bodies of COVID-19 victims, said the city government has been spending P30,000 each for those cremated due to COVID-19.

As of August 10, he added, the city government has so far spent P30 million since the pandemic reached Philippine shores in 2020, to cremate those who have died due to the severe effects of the virus.

“This includes even those who were suspected only of having died of COVID-19. We are not taking chances,” Cuenca said.

But not all were cremated, Cuenca said.

Maricel Rivera, city hall spokesperson, said of the 1,175 bodies taken care of by the local government, 787 were cremated while the rest were buried in the cemeteries.

“We have to make consideration for those whose religion forbids cremating their dead,” Cuenca said, referring to Muslims and some Christian groups.

Only two companies in the city offer cremation services. The Divine Shepherd Crematorium and Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes charge the same P30,000 free for every cremation.

The city also paid P3.5 million just to transport the dead from hospitals to the crematoriums.

For those who could not be cremated, Cuenca said the city government allotted plots at the city hall-owned Bolonsiri Public Cemetery in Barangay Camaman-an.

The costs for every burial in the city cemetery was P10,000.

Cuenca said the city government spent P1.5 million to pay at least three funeral parlors to do the burial.

Rivera said city hall set aside a budget to ensure that the dead are either given decent burials or cremated to help their families in their time of grief.

“But more than the expense, we salute the frontline workers assigned to the management of the dead cluster. They work 24/7 because they have to wait for calls from the hospitals in case there are deaths. They do all the coordination with the families, transport the cadavers either for burial or cremation,” Rivera said. – Rappler.com

Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.