Palace vows to speed up burial of 1,400 corpses
Malacañang on Thursday vowed to speed up the identification and burial of some 1,400 corpses nearly two months after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” ripped through Leyte and neighboring provinces.
Residents of Barangay (village) San Isidro in Leyte had complained about the stench coming from the bodies. But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma could not say when the bodies could be finally laid to rest.
He said the burial was delayed because of the “concern regarding the process of identification.”
Coloma recalled that the National Bureau of Investigation had announced that it would follow the protocols set by the Interpol.
“Based on the observation of other agencies, and this was also conveyed to the NBI, perhaps it was possible if the procedure could be modified [because of] the fact that the Interpol procedures are procedures used to gather evidence in criminal cases,” he said.
“Of course, they are more detailed. But these victims of the calamity, they are not similarly situated as the victims of crimes.”
Coloma said the NBI and other agencies tasked to deal with the corpses tackled the matter and had “arrived at an agreement on how to address the concern so that the identification process could become more efficient.”
“That was agreed upon. There is interagency coordination. The facilities have been provided and the focus now is on how to speed up the burial process, giving due respect to the remains of those who perished in the calamity,” he added.
On its website, the Interpol said “the process of identifying victims of major disasters such as terrorist attacks or earthquakes is rarely possible by visual recognition.”
“Comparison of fingerprints, dental records or DNA samples with ones stored in databases or taken from victims’ personal effects are often required to obtain a conclusive identification,” it added.
Quoting Secretary Panfilo Lacson, the administration’s main man in the typhoon rehabilitation effort, Coloma said the NBI was now working closely with the Department of Health and the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Tacloban City government to “speed up the burial of some 1,400 bodies.”
“The DOH has sent 1,500 body bags and protective kits for personnel doing the work. The DPWH has sent additional backhoes and payloaders, and the NBI has redeployed its forensic team on the ground,” Coloma added.
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