By Marita Moaje 

MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Wednesday it is fast-tracking the documentation, permits, and approval of crematoriums in the country.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said they are doing this to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“Yung mga crematoriums na nagbubukas ngayon fina-fast-track natin yung documentations nila, yung kanilang mga permits, approvals na kailangan sa EMB (Environmental Management Bureau talagang minamadali natin. Alam naman natin na yung rising death sa Covid eh talagang kailangan i-cremate yung bangkay kaya minamadali natin, eto yung nakikita natin na maitutulong natin (we are fast-tracking the documentations and permit approvals of crematoriums especially because of the rising number of deaths due to Covid-19 and needs to be cremated, this is how we see that we can help),” he said in an online virtual conference.

Antiporda said existing data based on DENR-EMB records showed only some 89 crematoriums.

“Yung crematorium natin na existing as of now based on record ng DENR-EMB is 89 crematorium, but there are only 69 crematorium which are operational. Yung numbers na yan ay nakikita natin na maaaring tumaas pa dahil talagang kulang na kulang (based on the record of the DENR EMB, we have 89 crematoriums but only 69 are operational. This number may still go up because we do not have enough crematoriums),” he said.

Of this number, 26 are located in the National Capital Region (NCR) with only 16 operating, and are capable of cremating 66 bodies per day.

However, Antiporda said they have yet to update the data.

“Yung mga cremated bodies since March 18 of 2020 up to present, Covid, PUI (persons under investigation) and non-Covid is inabot ng 8,131 ‘yung cremated bodies (the cremated bodies since march 18, 2020 among Covid patients, PUI, and non-PUIs is 8,131),” he said.

Meanwhile, the DENR has issued a memorandum to the Department of the Interior and Local Government seeking assistance in informing local government units (LGU) on proper solid waste segregation.

The memorandum states that LGUs must ensure “proper solid waste segregation particularly on food wastes, residual wastes, and used personal protective equipment/gears (e.g. masks and gloves), and “sustained regular garbage collection and c. proper waste disposal in DENR-approved sanitary landfills.”

Antiporda said the agency is calling the attention of LGUs that are not following the memorandum.

He added that disposal of hazardous wastes is done in storage and disposal facilities which have special cells and undergo treatment first before they are finally disposed of. (PNA)