Renovation of public cemetery draws flak
The Marikina government has announced its plan to carry out a major renovation of the city’s only public cemetery, a move which will require the transfer of the around 20,000 remains buried on the 1.5-hectare property in Barangka.
Understandably, not everyone is supportive of the idea.
“When I heard about it, I felt hurt because I was imagining my husband’s remains mixed with [those of other people] in a mass grave. I will not let that happen,” Zenaida Lahoy-lahoy, a 55-year-old caterer who was visiting the tomb of her husband, Romeo, at the Barangka Public Cemetery, told the Inquirer yesterday.
She said that she learned of the city government’s plan only recently and immediately called up her daughter who is working abroad. She also went to the office of the cemetery caretaker to get more information.
“These are merely bones but they are connected to our lives,” said Lahoy-lahoy who was teary-eyed as she remembered her husband who died in 1994.
She clarified, however, that she had nothing against the plan to renovate the graveyard as long as the government could assure them that there would be no mix-up in the transfer of their loved ones’ remains.
Lahoy-lahoy was not the only one with these concerns. Cemetery caretaker Raymond Ayuson was kept busy yesterday by people who went to his office to ask about the renovation plan.
“Is it true that they are going to demolish the tombs to widen the roads?” a man asked him. “It’s just a plan and nothing is final yet,” was Ayuson’s reply to most of the questions.
Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman, on the other hand, allayed residents’ fears and said that the program was aimed at decongesting the city’s lone public cemetery.
“The apartment-type niches are now called condominiums,” De Guzman said in jest, referring to the towering rows of tombs dotting the graveyard.
“We can no longer count how many remains lie there. There are old tombs which no one visits anymore,” he added.
The renovation plan is based on a 2010 ordinance which reiterates the rules and regulations covering the public cemetery.
Under the ordinance, niches can be rented for just a period of five years for an annual fee of P100. Afterward, the remains of the deceased will be transferred to an ossuary if these are not removed and transferred elsewhere by surviving relatives.
According to De Guzman, it will take the city government 10 years to complete the cemetery’s facelift which will be carried out in two phases.
No date, however, has been set for the implementation of the program.
“We are taking advantage of the occasion to inform the public. We want them to know that this project will benefit them,” he said.
De Guzman added that notices would be sent to the kin of all the people buried in the graveyard. They can either transfer the bones to another cemetery or agree to store these temporarily in a bone chamber. On the other hand, bodies that remain unclaimed will be buried in a mass grave.
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