MANILA – Local government units (LGUs) must report to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) the funeral parlors that would refuse to provide services to persons who died of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday.

“Sa LGU, kung medyo matigas talaga at ayaw talaga (To LGUs, if funeral homes are defying the government’s directives), then report to the DILG. DILG knows what to do,” Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said in a virtual press conference aired on state-run PTV-4.

Nograles made the call following the admission of the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) in Quezon City, one of the hospitals involved in the fight against Covid-19, that bodies of Covid-19 patients have piled up in the hallway of its morgue facility.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, EAMC spokesperson, Dr. Dennis Ordoña admitted that the hospital has insufficient equipment to store additional cadavers.

Ordoña said EAMC’s morgue could only accommodate up to five bodies, but the hospital recorded 20 corpses last week.

He added that some of the bodies have started to smell because these have been in the morgue for at least four days.

Nograles called on LGUs to use their “convincing power” to make sure that proper funeral services would be given to deceased Covid-19 patients.

“LGUs, please monitor the funeral homes that are in your locality. Please coordinate with them. Ask them to cooperate,” he said.

The IATF-EID has passed a resolution which seeks to penalize funeral parlors that refuse to handle the bodies of Covid-19 patients.

LGUs have been tasked to designate funeral service facilities that can handle the remains of Covid-19 fatalities.

The DILG has also been directed to monitor and penalize funeral homes that refuse to provide logistics and transport of Covid-19 remains.

Covid-19 remains should be cremated within 12 hours from the time of death, according to the guidelines set by IATF-EID.

A PHP25,000 funeral support fund will be given to indigents who died due to Covid-19.

Nograles ensured that the government, upon the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte, will make proper intervention, in case funeral parlors continue to defy the guidelines.

“It’s DILG who is on top of all of this. At sinabi na nga rin ni Pangulo na (The President already said) the government will come in already. We have to honor the 12-hour rule or regulation,” he said.

Nograles, nevertheless, expressed confidence that LGUs would be able to handle the situation.

“At para sa mga nasa negosyo nitong funeral, sundin na lang po ninyo ‘yung sinasabi ng DILG pati ng LGU (And for the funeral parlors, just follow the orders of the DILG and LGUs),” he said.

Covid-19 infections in the Philippines already climbed to 4,932.

Some 315 Covid-19 patients already died, while 242 persons recovered from the new coronavirus. (PNA)

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