Free, discounted funeral services for poor Pinoys sought
MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc has filed a measure that seeks to provide free funeral services to the extremely poor, or at discounted rates for indigent Filipinos who want to bury their dead.
House Bill No. 5753, or the “Free and Discounted Funeral Services Act,” aims to mandate the State to “provide immediate relief to the poor, especially during the loss of their loved ones.”
The measure was filed on Oct. 28, a few days before the nation observes All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
“In the Philippines, dying has become as costly as living itself. This is because most Filipinos already live lives of utter poverty and still die poor and indebted until the end. Funeral services, generally, are expensive, a stark and difficult reality confronting the large majority of impoverished Filipinos,” part of the bill’s explanatory read.
House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. France Castro expressed hope that the House will “fast track the measure and approve it as soon as possible to help our poor people cope with the rising cost of funeral services.”
“It’s already costly to keep on living, and even more costly if one dies,” she said in a statement.
Castro added that many families hold wakes at home and that sometimes, wakes last more than a week because there are not enough donations to cover the burial expenses.
The bill was first filed during the 15th Congress by then Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares. Versions of the measure were consistently refiled by the Makabayan bloc in subsequent Congress.
During the 18th Congress, the measure — then refiled as HB 5249 — was approved by the House poverty alleviation committee, but remained pending before the appropriations panel.
HB 5753 defines “poor” as families whose income fall below the poverty threshold set by the National Economic and Development Authority, and those who cannot sustainably afford to provide for their food, health, education, housing and other essential needs.
Free for extremely poor
The Community-Based Monitoring System of the local government will be used to determine the degree of indigency of the family, whether indigent or extremely poor.
For extremely poor families, the bill provides for free funeral services for only one family member per month per accredited mortuary branch, given that it does not exceed the cost of the mortuary’s minimum funeral service package.
The grant of free funeral services is without prejudice to the right of the beneficiary to avail of upgraded funeral services, with the difference in cost to be paid by the family of the deceased.
In the case of indigent families, they will be given a 50-percent discount by mortuaries anywhere in the country, but would only be applicable to at-need funeral services only.
Mortuaries granting free or discounted funeral services to extremely poor or indigent families may seek reimbursement for the cost from regional offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The DSWD will be the lead agency in implementing free or discounted funeral services and will engage the funeral services of mortuaries throughout the country.
Local governments will be required to waive fees and charges for permits and documents being sought by extremely poor or indigent families, such as burial or interment permit, cremation permit, transfer permit, disinterment permit, death certificate, etc.
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